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Breath of the Spirit

Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.

Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.

We forget that just as Jesus was “transfigured” by generously responding to his Father’s call, so our response would also transfigure us.


Genesis 12:1-4a     
II Timothy 1:8b-10     
Matthew 17:1-9

Many of us falsely believe God only works through those individuals who’ve lived lives worthy of God working through them. We grew up believing in the non-biblical statement of St. Bonaventure: “Potuit, decuit, ergo fecit.” God is able to do it, it would be fitting if he did it, therefore he does it.
One of my grade school religion teachers once applied this reasoning to the Blessed Virgin. His reason for believing Mary was the most beautiful woman who ever existed was simple. Following Bonaventure he asked, “Couldn’t God create such a uniquely beautiful person? Doesn’t it make sense such a woman would be the mother of His Son? Therefore Mary was that most beautiful woman.”
Such reasoning might make sense to us, but as I mentioned above, it’s non-biblical. Going counter to Bonaventure, our sacred authors were convinced, “God could do it, it’d be fitting if he did it, but God almost never does what we expect him or her to do!”
This kind of theology especially kicks in when it comes to biblical “calls.” God never calls people to a special ministry because they’re the “holiest” persons in the room. They haven’t necessarily engaged in an ascetical lifestyle, gone to Mass frequently, never forgot their meal prayers or even said a daily rosary. The God we know from Scripture simply calls certain individuals without any reference to who they were or what they did before that call. Only what they do after the call is important. This is especially true of the very first biblical call – the one narrated in today’s Genesis reading – that of Abram.
The sacred author never tells us why Yahweh chooses Abram from the thousands of migrating people around him. Nor is there any mention of the kind of relationship the two had before the call. The significant thing is that the passage ends simply with the statement, “Abram went as Yahweh directed him.”
Yet notice what this resident of Ur agrees to do. He’s leaving all the security he’s ever known – his land, his kinsfolk, his father’s house – and sets out for a still-to-be determined country. Though Yahweh promises to one day make his family a “great nation” and his name a “blessing,” Abram can’t fall back on Yahweh’s track record. At this point there is none. Everything starts from here.
That’s the key to biblical calls: the person called is expected to put all her/his security in the one doing the calling. They’re expected to follow not an institution or a set of rules and regulations, but a person; to live their lives based on the whim of that special individual, no matter where it takes them.
The unknown author II Timothy takes that for granted when he reminds his community that the risen Jesus has also “called us to a holy life.” Though we believe the good news he proclaims about eventually destroying death and bringing us life and immortality, we’re only going to achieve those things by putting our security in Jesus right here and now.
I presume many of us, because of our past track records, don’t even notice the calls God frequently extends to us. If we actually did hear some of them, we’d probably take for granted they’re cases of mistaken identity. We forget that just as Jesus was “transfigured” by generously responding to his Father’s call, so our response would also transfigure us.
We can’t let our preconceived notions of how God should act stop us from seeing how God actually is acting, especially when that concerns our own lives. The only way we’re ever going to transfigure the earth is to first acknowledge how God and the risen Jesus have already transfigured us.