One of the things they tell you early on as a priest is that you have to start investing. They say that because as priests, when we retire, the diocese does not provide for us. We have to have everything provided for us when we retire. Over the last decade or so, I have been learning about retirement. One of the things I have come across is this whole notion of an irrevocable trust. It is a trust that you can set up so that once you make the arrangements and place your money into that trust it is irrevocable. Unchangeable. You better know what you are doing when you put your money in an irrevocable trust. You cannot change it. You cannot adjust it. If you are a parent and all of a sudden decide that you do not like one of your kids, they are still going to get the money. It is irrevocable.
I thought of that as I came across the second reading today. “The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” That means that no matter what we do, no matter how bad we are, it is never going to change. God’s gifts and calls are irrevocable. They cannot be changed. I am going to talk about each one of these things quickly. There are three things . . . gifts, call and irrevocable.
First of all, our gifts. God has given to us gifts in this life. First I want everyone to realize that you yourselves are a gift. When God conceived you, created you in your mother’s womb, you were like a present just waiting to be opened for this world. You were a gift to your parents, even if they did not appreciate you. You were a gift to them. You are a gift to the world even if the world does not appreciate you. You are a gift to them. You are a gift just by being a person who is created in the image and likeness of God and given to the world just like Jesus was. He was a gift to the world, and so are you.
We have also been given gifts, and these gifts are irrevocable. It is important that each and every one of us know what our gifts are. I am speaking specifically about the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. I want you to think about that. If you do not know what your gift is, you have some homework for this week. I would like you to look up the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Read them. If you do not know what one of them means, open the dictionary or Google it and find out what that word means and meditate on that. Think, pray and ask God, “OK, what are the gifts that you have given to me?” Those gifts that he has given to you in a unique way are irrevocable. They are never going to go away. You use them in different aspects throughout your life whether you are a child, parent, priest, etc. He wants to use these gifts for the world, and the gifts are irrevocable.
Sometimes I think about an artist or anybody that is in the creative field. There is always this thing haunting an artist that someday he is going to lose his gift or the inspiration that drives them. If it is from God, it is irrevocable. It is never going to go away. You are always going to have that gift no matter what you do or experience throughout your life. That is the first part, to realize that you yourself are a gift and, by being a gift, it is irrevocable. No matter how off course you get in life. The absolute fact that you are a gift does not get changed if you do horrible things or sin. You are a gift for the world, you are a gift from God, and you have gifts that are irrevocable.
The second thing is the call. We all have a call in our lives. The call for us begins in Baptism. For each and every one of us who have been baptized, your call is holiness. We are called to be holy. We are called to become like God here in this world and to reveal God here in this world. I love saying that in realizing that that call of holiness will never go away. I have some baptized friends that are Catholic that have not been to church in years. They will start to say to me, “I cannot go into church because the place will set on fire if I go in. The place will break down or crumble, if I go into church.” Part of them believes that, but the reality is the call to holiness never goes away. Anything that we have done or anything that we have experienced in our life that takes us away from that holiness does not keep us from being holy because that is who we are as our identity. Certainly, if we get ourselves away from being holy or if we get ourselves entrapped in grave and serious sin, it calls us to reconciliation. It calls us to come to confession. It calls us to be reconciled to the Lord and to remember and reestablish our identity as holy. That is the second thing. The call will never go away. For each and every one of you, the call you received in Baptism will never go away.
There are two other unique calls that never go away. One is priesthood. I was ordained a priest in the rite for priests that comes from scripture and says, “You are a priest forever.” This call to priesthood never goes away. Sometimes people will ask me that. I do not know why they would ever say this to a priest because I cannot imagine they would say it to married couples. They will say, “Do you ever think you will leave the priesthood?” I will say, “Thank you. No.” The call does not go away. You would not go up to a married couple and say, “Hey, do you think you guys will ever get divorced?” No! The call is permanent. When husband and wife make that commitment together, it is until “death do you part.” It is a permanent call that never goes away. I invite you to think about that. If you are struggling in your marriage, remember that you have been given this promise by God that this call is permanent. It is irrevocable. If you are married, you cannot walk away from your marriage. If you are married, you are together for you entire life. For good or for bad; through sickness and through health, that call is irrevocable.
Finally, let’s discuss this notion of being irrevocable. It is hard for us to understand this because we live in such a disposable culture where we have things that are revoked all the time. We have an iPhone, and then they quickly come out with an iPhone 12 all of a sudden. This one is now bad, and we have to ditch it. We have to get rid of it. We have this culture where we constantly just let go of things, give up things, and move onto the next thing. This irrevocableness is so hard for us to understand.
The gifts that we have are irrevocable. They are never going to go away. The call that you have received to holiness is never going to go away. If you are married, that call is never going to go away. If you are a priest, it is never going to go away. It is irrevocable. As I was reading one of these articles about an irrevocable trust, it said at the end, “You better know what you are doing if you make an irrevocable trust because it is for life. It is for good. There are no changes.” I think that is true for all of us. We better know what we are doing with the gifts that God has given to us, with the vocation that we are called to live, and also with the reality that it is irrevocable.
You have some homework for this week. Meditate upon your gift. Realize the gift that you have been given. Pray about that and ask, “God, what are the gifts and talents that you have given to me?” Realize that if they are given to you, they are never going to go away. The second is to reflect on your call. If you are married, renew your commitment to marriage. If you are single, reflect on how God is calling you to live in that single life. If you are thinking about priesthood or religious life, reflect on how God is calling you. He will never remove the call.
We can dwell in the security of that irrevocableness. We remember for ourselves: I am a gift and nothing changes that. I am a gift no matter what people think about me and no matter what happens in my life. I have a call and that call is irrevocable.