The Choice is Ours: A Reflection by Tracy Burgess

Happy 2024 to all of our St. Patrick community and beyond! We are starting a faith encouragement series wherein community members share reflections on the weekly readings, feast days, and more. We are excited to continue this series with a piece by the Executive Director of the Dorothy Day House, Tracy Burgess.
My friend and co-worker Beth always has a good book to read, and one of her latest suggestions was “Bible Stories for Grown-Ups.” After reading the chapter on Jonah, I relate to him more than I expected. I don’t let too many people see the “curmudgeon” side of me, but it’s the side that chooses to do
things that I know are ultimately right but always out of a sense of obligation and sometimes unwillingly and even grumbling.
A good example is going to the grocery store 4 TIMES this past week to get food and supplies for the Dorothy Day House. (Side note: I don’t like grocery shopping nor cold weather.) Remembering the story of Jonah, his choice was “to know the voice of God and also want nothing to do with what God was asking him to do.” It’s how I sometimes think about my choices. I’m an over thinker. For every major decision, I have considered every possible scenario, made an excel spreadsheet, and probably written a pros and cons list trying to convince myself to do or not to do whatever it is. Ask Josh about the year-long financial budget that I created when I was deciding to work at the Dorothy Day House in 2014. I was excited about that spreadsheet but let me tell you it was a stretch to work that first year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. In the end, God, through so many people in our community, was with us.
Now reflecting on the Gospel, Josh and I have also followed the idea to “sleep on it.” Anytime we are making a major decision, we literally go to bed and see how we feel about the change in the morning. I wonder what Jesus would have thought if he asked us to follow him when our response was that we’d get back with him in the morning.
For the calling of the first apostles, their decision was immediate or at least it seemed that way. They dropped what they were doing, left their family, and followed Jesus. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were also everyday people. That choice of Jesus is important because it means that he could just as easily choose you or I.
Know that you are chosen and loved just as your are. Just like Mary and the apostles, it’s now your choice to follow immediately, question, or to run in the opposite direction. Your ability to discern these major decisions is an opportunity that I hope you don’t take for granted. Just know, in your choices no matter what they are, that through this community, God is with you. I can’t say that it won’t be a challenge or downright awful at times, but God is waiting, God’s love is endless and is for everyone.

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