There are things that evoke an identity, such as the national anthem or the colors of the national flag. Israel’s national identity was, at its core, a religious identity clearly evoked in the Shemá Israel –hear, O Israel [Dt. 6:4-5] quoted by Jesus, himself a Jew, in today’s gospel reading. It remains today an identity quite engraved in the heart of a devout Jewish person.
The Shemá is truly a call to wholeheartedness –with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind– and as such it should also be engraved in our own hearts.
Yet, there is in God’s calling a diversity that corresponds to the diversity of persons, indeed to the uniqueness of each person.
Unfortunately this diversity of callings/vocations is at times misread as a diversity in the expected degree of wholeheartedness in the response, as if priests/brothers/sisters were called to a wholehearted response, while the rest of the baptized were called to “muddle through” as best they can.
Baptism is the seed of a calling that will develop as the person grows up and to the extent that such a calling is owned and embraced –not automatically. As through prayerful reflection on our lives we recognize both our giftedness and how it fits in our life’s context- which is invariably changing at all times, so also we try to see in that the path the Lord is inviting us to follow, and in many cases, the path back to the main path.
All of this is precisely in order that you love our neighbor as yourself, the second commandment the Lord says is like it (like the Shemá). Then our response, which we already desire to be wholehearted, becomes concretized in marriage, priesthood, religious life, medicine, law, nursing, teaching… The difference among vocations lies not on the side of the expected response, but on the side of the diverse calling we are expected to respond to wholeheartedly.
(Adapted from Luis Rodriguez, S.J.)