Our Vocation Begins by Dwelling in Jesus
Last month, Pope Francis journeyed to Colombia. During his visit, he addressed priests, brothers, sisters and seminarians. I think that his words, both encouraging and challenging for the listeners, can be of benefit to young men discerning a missionary call.
In his address, the Holy Father reminded everyone that our vocational call begins by knowing Jesus. He said that "to have found it is the best thing that has happened to us in life, and to make it known through our word and deed is our joy." He went on to say that young people in the church today feel a restlessness in their life that, for us religious, inspired to seek and discern our call. Hopefully, that restlessness "drives them into taking action for others."
Pope Francis said that we should not be afraid of the challenges and complexities that we find in the modern world but instead we should be joyful and give thanks to God that we have been called.
As he often does, Pope Francis reminded the regligious that they must remain close to Jesus, warning them that "vocations associated with special consecrations die when they love to be sustained with honors, when they are driven by a search for personal reassurance and social advancement, when the motivation is ‘to climb the ladder.'" His words are a stern reminder that, as religious, we are called to serve and not to be served.
Pope Francis told his audience, "Dwelling in Jesus cannot be a merely passive act or a simple abandonment without any consequences in our daily lives." Dwelling or remaining in Jesus begins by being in relationship or in union with God and that is lived out in these three ways:
"Dwelling in Jesus by touching the humanity of Jesus"
To discern our vocation, we need to dwell in Jesus, which we do by recognizing "the value of the people who walk with us." We have to be willing to be "moved by peoples' needs, above all when they are overwhelmed by injustice, inhumane poverty, indifference or by the perverse actions of corruption and violence." It could be tempting to give in to an easier way and ignore the needs of those around us or give up because it seems like it is too big of a task. Instead, we are called to recognize Jesus in the needs of others and joyfully be witnesses of hope.
"Dwelling by contemplating his divinity"
The second way we discern our vocation, dwelling in Jesus, is through an "encounter with Sacred Scripture." Pope Francis said that especially through the Gospels, "Christ speaks to us, reveals his unconditional love for the Father, and instills the joy that comes from obedience to his will and the service of our brothers and sisters." While discerning our call, as well as while living in it out, reading the Scripture and prayer must be a fundamental part of our life. We can start today, making time to read from the Gospels or quietly meditating on the scripture we heard at Mass the previous Sunday. There are times that prayer does not come easy but we must begin by making the time. If we do not know how to pray we can talk with our spiritual director or with us in the vocation office to find help.
"Dwelling in Christ in order to live joyfully"
Finally, Pope Francis said, "If we remain in him, his joy will be in us. We will not be sad disciples and bitter apostles." When we respond joyfully to our vocational "call" and continue to dwell in Jesus both in those we serve and in our prayer, our call will be the best thing that ever happened in our lives. Responding to that call will have its challenges, but we will overcome them by radiating joy to those that we meet. "God's call is not a heavy burden that robs us of joy. Is it burdensome? Sometimes, but it never robs us of joy."
Do Pope Francis' words about dwelling in Jesus, through the people you encounter and in the sacred scripture resound in you? Do you feel a restlessness to respond joyfully to your call? If so, maybe you are being called to be a Glenmary Missioner.
Find out by contacting our vocation office at 513-881-7494 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.