“Move my picture, Miss!” they shouted as I entered the classroom, reveling in the possibility of their photos being taken. “After the lesson,” I promised, scanning the room for a seat that wouldn’t be found. Two of our students were at the front of the room, about to begin a lesson involving paper plate masks with pipe cleaner ears. By then the classroom at Sunday Wood Roman Catholic School had begun to feel familiar. The trip from Punta Gorda to Sunday Wood felt less bumpy, sloshing through the mud had become less trying. It was the seventh day of our trip to Belize, and I felt like I was falling in love with the country and its people.

As Colleen fixed the example to the board and Matt wound multicolored pipe cleaners into ears, I went to one of the tables on the opposite side of the room, armed with a length of masking tape. “What’s your name, Miss?” came the question from one of the little women sitting in the corner of the room.
“My name is Jen. What’s your name?”
“Rutilia Tum!” she exclaimed, without missing a beat.
Rutilia chatted away as I taped the pipe cleaners to the back of her paper plate. Then she held it against her face, her eyes smiling through the diamond-shaped holes. So bright, so articulate, I thought. My prayer is for you to become whatever you are called to be. Amen.

Callings reveal themselves in a variety of different ways. It can start with a simple introduction between two people who share a common humanity and different experiences of life, like the brief encounter I had with Rutilia. In this week’s readings, I see a common theme of calling, of being named. In the first reading, we hear God calling out to Isaiah, “You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.” God goes on to explain that Isaiah will be made “a light to the nations” so that God’s “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” In the Gospel, we see a member of the community, Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist, who calls out to Jesus, naming him as the Son of God.

This recent experience in Belize and the readings for this week help me reflect on what it means to be a Catholic woman in our culture today. God calls out to each of us in different ways–speaking to us directly in prayer and through the experiences we have in our daily lives, placing people in our lives who know us well and help us discern our callings, as John the Baptist did for Jesus. A question to consider this week is, “Who am I called to be?”


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