Today’s first Mass reading, taken from the beginning of the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, is one that I love. The passage begins with God telling Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
Jeremiah doesn’t exactly greet this news with glee. You can almost feel his trepidation (read: terror). Who? Me? You can’t mean me? I’m too young? I have no idea what to say. But God reassures him:
Say not, “I am too young.” To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you…I place my words in your mouth.
I read these words as more than a promise to Jeremiah. Rather, they reassure us that if God calls us to a task, God will be with us, giving us what we need in order to accomplish that task. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard – we’ve all felt challenged by God’s invitations. But it does mean God won’t leave us hanging out there. If God appoints us to a task, we need have no fear.
There is a necessary discernment here. If God calls us to a task, we can be sure God will give us want we need to accomplish it. We do need to carefully discern how we are being called. I’m pretty confident that if I wake up tomorrow morning and decide to try out for a football team so that I can catechize the other players, God is not going to endow me with the physical prowess necessary to make the team. But I’m equally sure that if I engage in a careful discernment process that yields some clarity that God is calling me to a new place and position, that I need not fear and that God will be with me.