I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year, especially since the pandemic struck upending life in all manner of ways on what is my call within the call. What is God inviting me to at this moment in time as Mumbi, separate from the shared and common goal with my Precious Blood Sisters and a consecrated women, and other Black women. The tumult of the times on the global, national, communal and even personal level, painful though it has been, has only weighed into my conclusion that a whole lot of us need to revisit our calls and vocations. Not through an intellectual process per se but as a process of the heart. For it is my heart that aches and thus I must seek to understand by interrogating my heart as to where and what the healing balm is.
The pace of life and the many advancements of society has shifted me -- and I believe many of us -- to highly effective and efficient people which is what we are told is required for success. However, this approach has meant that so many and so much have fallen through the cracks of life and society and especially our own consciousness.
We read of Jonah in the 1st reading, where God appears to him a second time. We all know of Jonah’s reluctance when called forth the first time, and who can blame him. He was being asked to literally go into the Lion’s den and throw down the gauntlet. Jonah’s reluctance is something we can all identify with. Preaching the gospel by deeds and words, by witnessing to a countercultural reality where all are welcome, where the weak are upheld, and offenders are restored and embraced, where truth and justice have equal weight to peace and mercy is not a popular manifesto to espouse in our current world. I believe that all who profess Christ are being invited to witness to what that truly means, separate from popular and personal politics, we are being invited to reclaim church as the Body of Christ and not as an institutional monolith behind which we can hide.
The second reading calls us to make haste. I closely identify with this sense of urgency ever since I turned 40. The verse “to whom much has been given, much is demanded” has always acted like a clarion call to me. In recognizing my privilege acquired through proximity, access to opportunities and resources and weighing the growing needs of the world especially on the continent which I will forever call home compels me to want to do more and more so at the grassroots level. We cannot be complacent when the number of people facing malnutrition, hunger, disease, displacement, homelessness continues to increase. We cannot be silent when people are still judged and marginalized on the basis of the skin color, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. We sin when we say things like ‘America first’ or ‘Kenya first’ when engaging with social injustices: “The earth’s is the Lord’s and all it contains, and those who dwell in it.” Each one of us, made in the image and likeness of God, worthy and deserving.
Finally in the gospel, we are first called to repent, called to metanoia, called to believe in the gospel of Christ. Called to love God and to love neighbor as self. We do need to repent for the times we’ve been self-centered, when we have turned a blind eye to the needs of our siblings. The same gospel also relates to us both the physical and spiritual metanoia of James and John, who not only abandoned their livelihood and their comfort zone, which for all intents and purposes seems to have been quite lucrative, but more so embraced the gospel call to become disciples of Jesus.
What kind of invitation is God proffering to you as we begin this year? What do you need to leave behind in order to follow Christ? How better can we love God and neighbor? What is the call within the call for each of you? I am convinced the answer lies in a process of the heart, in discernment, so that we may clearly hear God’s call separate from all the naysaying that our brains may distract us with. Just as Jonah, James and John, listened, trusted and responded, may we listen, trust and respond. What ails your heart, and what will soothe it?
Mumbi Kigutha CPPS
Mumbi Kigutha CPPS
Sister Mumbi Kigutha was born and raised in Kenya. She has worked with diverse vulnerable populations including stints with various UN agencies. Sr. Mumbi currently resides on the southside of Chicago working as a part-time International Consultant for Jesuit Refugee Services under the Reconciliation and Social Cohesion Department. Sr. Mumbi is also a regular contributor to the Horizons column of the Global Sisters Report and was also recently appointed as the organizing secretary of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network. Sr. Mumbi graduated from CTU with a Master of Arts in Justice Ministry and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry in addition to her previous MBA in Marketing. Her theological interests center around Womanist and Africana interpretations, reconciliation, racial and gender equity and their intersection with other areas of social justice.
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