We’re coming towards the end of Vocations Week. We’re asked, this week in particular, to pray specifically for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. However, not everyone is called into these vocations. We all have different callings in life. That’s easy to see, just by looking at the people around us in our day-to-day lives. You see mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, nurses, electricians, farmers, lawyers: the list goes on. So, when we talk about the word “vocation,” we acknowledge all the vocations that we, as human beings, have been gifted with. We all have a vocation, we have all been called to live for the good of our fellow human beings: our families, our communities and the world around us.
This call to “holiness of life” is not only for priests and religious, as some often assume, but everyone.
Pope Francis, in his latest publication Christus Vivit, speaks of two senses of the word “vocation.” The first, our primary vocation, is our universal call to a holy life. This is what every human on earth is called to! This call to “holiness of life” is not only for priests and religious, as some often assume, but everyone. Pope Francis emphasised that the most important part of this calling, is to discover that “Jesus wants to be our friend.” A friend who has laid down his life out of his love for us! A friend who loves us unconditionally and wants us to do the same for all those we come into contact with. A friend who, through our various different callings in life, wants us to serve one another out of that deep love that he has for us.
The second sense of the word “vocation” that Pope Francis talks about, and in a more specific way, is our call to missionary service to others. Pope Francis says that “… our life on earth reaches full stature when it becomes an offering.” In other words, we are called to give up or lay down our lives for others. To be servants of one another and be “stewards” of our friends, our communities, and our world. In a twist of President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what the Church can do for you – ask what you can do for the Church.” We’re being asked to give more than we receive. We’re being asked to use our God-given gifts to contribute to the well-being of our human family, by starting with our local communities: working together for the good of our society.
When we, as a community, only live for ourselves, then we’re betraying our vocation.
When we, as a community, only live for ourselves, then we’re betraying our vocation. Our calling is never truly ours. As Pope Francis also says, the question we should ask today in relation to our vocational calling is not: “who am I?” rather, “for whom, am I?” This is reflected well by Isabella McCafferty* when she says, “My call, though unique, is most importantly about how I can be of service to those around me; their needs, challenges, joys and hopes. Each of us has this capacity within us, so may we constantly risk asking this question and see how the answer calls us beyond ourselves.”
May we make this the question we ask ourselves as we discern the vocation to which God is calling us: For whom am I?
*Isabella McCafferty is a Youth Leader and has a leadership role in pastoral support of the Diocese of Palmerston North, NZ.
Joey was born in Rabaul, East New Britain Province, PNG. He joined the Passionists in 2011 in Port Moresby. He completed his theological studies at Yarra Theological Union early 2018 and is currently undergoing pastoral experience as a Deacon. Joseph has done some mission work and was part of our Youth Retreat Team in Brisbane under the guidance of Frs Ray Sanchez CP and David King CP. Recently, he completed a year of pastoral experience in Glen Osmond/Parkside Parish, Adelaide. He is currently living and working in Blenheim, New Zealand, undergoing a parish immersion experience whilst also working as a member of our Vocations Team.