Last weekend at Mass, the Gospel reading told the story of Mary's visit to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Our priest Fr. Bill gave a rockin' homily last weekend about this reading. Of all the things that he mentioned, here's what stuck with me the most: zeal and zest. Two little words that mean so much (and they're pretty fun words to say, I might add).
Fr. Bill was referring to Mary's actions when he used these words. The Gospel reading said that Mary set out and traveled "in haste" to go see her cousin Elizabeth. She didn't just take her sweet time, she didn't stop every 10 minutes to rest, she didn't waste a second. She went out in haste. Mary knows her purpose. She knows what she's gotta do, and she does it.
That's where this idea of zeal comes from. Zeal means "fervent or enthusiastic devotion" (thank you, dictionary.com). Mary was definitely enthusiastic in her journeying to the house of Zechariah. Upon her arrival, Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. It is Mary's zeal that bears the Holy Spirit.
This is what we are all called to: living with a zeal for joy, a zeal for souls, and a zeal for spreading the good news of Christ. Because when it comes down to it, our job is to get those around us to Heaven. Living authentic, dynamic, zealous lives is the only way we can make that happen.
So what about that other word I mentioned — zest? Fr. Bill, in his spiel about zeal, he mentioned the word zest. I don't entirely remember how that word related, or if he even meant to say it. But I liked it. I liked it a lot.
I don't know about you, but when I think of the word zest, I think of that zesty sauce from Burger King. (And I wonder why my brain jumps around so much when I'm trying to pay attention to the homilies every week...) While this might seem completely ridiculous, I think there's a connection here.
If you've ever tried that zesty sauce from Burger King, you'd know that it has a little zing to it. It's a little spicy — that kind of spicy that makes you raise your eyebrows after your first bite. And THAT is the kind of Catholics and people we should all strive to be. We want to be the kind of people who aren't just mild or boring like ketchup or mustard, but the kind of people who are full of energy and add some spice to life. We don't want to be the kind of people who just go with the flow, we should want to shake things up, change the societal norms, and stand out from the rest (after all, the word holy means "to be set apart").
And that's where zest and zeal come together. We just need to realize what God is calling us to do (big or small) and go after it with enthusiasm, not just go with the flow, but stand out, and make life happen. We're all called to be saints, and we've gotta start somewhere. So let's do this. Let's throw some zeal and some zest into every day.