Through our baptism, we been given a mission to carry out each day. We discern that mission as we move through the stages of life, but in each stage we experience similar revelations about what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. Women and men, old and young, and people of every race and from every continent experience the same revelations. This is part of our common humanity.
At every stage of life, we can become overwhelmed by the needs in front of us and the limitations of our own lives. Children experience this as they seek to discover the world and realize the limits of their mobility. But they are always curious for the next step. In the midst of growing freedom and mobility of the teenage years and young adulthood, we are faced with the ability to do so many things and the task of figuring out which we should and shouldn’t be doing. There is still a limitation of time and energy, even among the young.
A sense of being overwhelmed with life accompanies every stage of development for a human being. A healthy journey of discipleship mixes several components to keep the disciple healthy and holy. Being anchored in relationship with Jesus through prayer and worship gives us a foundation out of which to grapple with being overwhelmed. God gives us mentors and guides along the way who tell us and show us what it means to be a healthy and holy human being and disciple. We learn to trust those who are trustworthy and learn from them in the time we take away from the bustle of life and consider what we are doing with our mission. Time away, even with overwhelming needs around us, is essential for good, healthy and holy living. Does your habit of prayer and meditation go away during the summer? Do your choices of service to other people take a backseat to vacations and relaxation? Are you able to enjoy the increased amount of time that you might get to spend with family and friends? What good and holy habits do you carry throughout the year, no matter the season?
In the same way that we look to mentors and guides to lead us and teach us, the prophet Jeremiah warns us about the kind of example we are setting for others to follow. As we progress in life and declare ourselves to be disciples of Jesus, people will be watching us to see if we are who we say we are. If we set the example of running around taking care of other people‘s needs but not taking time for prayer and worship, we are misleading those who are looking to us for guidance. If we pray and worship but then speak ill of our enemies, we are being misleading to others. If we act as if we are the savior of the world and do not acknowledge our own limitations and failings, we are misleading others.
Summertime can be a time when we ignore certain healthy behaviors and habits. We give ourselves excuses for not praying, not worshiping with the community, not taking time to care for those who are in need and sometimes even overdoing the amount of activity we include in each day. Summertime is not a vacation time from our call to be disciples. In fact, it is the time when we encounter more strangers in our lives. Through our example, we can be an encouragement to them or a source of cynicism and division. Be on mission this summer to be a disciple of Jesus who lives a holy and balanced life. The kingdom of God is at hand.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.