This week is National Vocations Awareness Week. I have offered Masses this week asking that all people come to a deep realization of God’s love for them and how that love is experienced most profoundly in our relationship with Jesus Christ. For me, this is the starting point of coming to know what one’s mission in life entails. We believe that God is the author of all creation. Indeed, this is why Jesus preached with authority (Mark 1:22), because he is the author of all life. One line that remains with me from Pope Benedict XVI’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives is this: Jesus is the “Logos, the creative logic behind all things” (p.64)
It thus makes sense that to know why we were created, we must first come to know the One who created us, and that He created us out of love and for love. Each person’s individual vocation is rooted in this relationship with Jesus Christ. Discovering our mission comes from listening to the voice of Jesus. Indeed, the word vocation comes from the Latin, vocare, meaning, to call.
I read recently in a book by Sherry Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples her astute observation to the comment often heard today: “There are not enough vocations in the Church today.” Sherry without diminishing the beauty and necessity of Holy Orders (bishops, priests and deacons) and consecrated life (men and women religious) says there are plenty of vocations. The problem is that we are not recognizing most of them! Her point, not missed by this bishop, is that the laity have a vital role to play in the Church. The laity have a vital role to play in building God’s Kingdom. They, too, have a God-given mission to accomplish.
The primary vocation shared by all is to live lives that are holy, rooted in the Gospel. Individually, this vocation takes shape as those called to marriage, or holy orders, or religious life, and some as single celibates. At the heart of the Christian vocation is the invitation to model our life on the life of Christ. To be created in the image and likeness of God is to be created for communion. The life of Christ was a total self gift to the Father in obedience to His will. The life of Christ was a total self gift to all of humanity to fulfill the Father’s work of redemption.
Here in lies the heart of all vocations; self gift. Each of us is called to live our life not for self, but for God, His Church, and for others. It is in this self gift that we achieve true self-realization. As we live this call from Christ to live our lives for him, we come to deeper realization of the gifts He has given us to aid us in furthering His Kingdom. This is what the active faith-life for each of us means; following Christ, actively participating in the sacramental life of the Church, and actively participating in the ministries of the Church that ultimately lead others to Christ.
Please join me in praying that more and more people discover their vocation in life. Join me in praying that more and more people discover the particular way God is inviting them to actively follow Christ and to build up His Kingdom. Join me in asking that each of us discover the joy of knowing, loving, and serving our God!