May 27, 2011


God is calling. How will we answer?

“In the hidden recesses of the human heart the grace of a vocation takes the form of a dialogue. It is a dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given. Christ calls the person by name and says: ‘Come, follow me.’ This call, this mysterious inner voice of Christ, is heard most clearly in silence and prayer. Its acceptance is an act of faith.”
—Blessed John Paul II

Sacred Scripture is filled with vocation stories. God calls men and women by name to play special roles in the history of salvation.

Many—for example, Jonah in the Old Testament —resist the Lord’s call. God persists and, finally, with great reluctance, Jonah says yes.

In the New Testament, we read of Jesus’ personal invitations to the disciples to “Come, follow me” (Mt 4:19). Most respond immediately and become his disciples, but some—like the rich young man—simply won’t do it. They carry too much baggage, too many material possessions or too many worldly distractions.

God calls each one of us—personally—to follow him in a special way, a way that corresponds to the unique gifts and talents that he has given us. The vocational call that each of us receives is a call to be responsible stewards of our vocation whatever it may be.

So God calls, and we are invited—challenged—to respond. What will our answer be? Will we say “yes” right away? Or will we resist?

And once we have embraced the vocation that God has given us, will we be faithful to our unique calling or will we falter in our attempts to be faithful to God’s call?

Blessed John Paul II once offered these reflections on our response to God’s call:

“Do not be slow to answer the Lord’s call! From the Book of Exodus, we can learn how the Lord acts in every vocation (cf., Ex 3:1–6, 9–12). First, he provokes a new awareness of his presence—the burning bush. When we begin to show an interest, he calls us by name. When our answer becomes more specific and like Moses we say: ‘Here I am’ (Ex 3:4), then he reveals more clearly both himself and his compassionate love for his people in need. Gradually, he leads us to discover the practical way in which we should serve him: ‘I will send you.’ And usually it is then that fears and doubts come to disturb us and make it more difficult to decide. It is then that we need to hear the Lord’s assurance: ‘I am with you’ (Ex 3:12). Every vocation is a deep personal experience of these words: ‘I am with you’ ” (Ex: 3:12).

An important part of our responsibility as members of God’s family is to support and encourage one another in our vocations. As faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, we have a serious responsibility to reach out to the young Church, to engage youth and young adults in the sacramental and pastoral life of the Church, and to encourage young women and men as they discern God’s vocational call.

In the Old Testament, God called the young Samuel. Because of the encouragement this young man received from one of his elders, he was able to say, “Here I am, Lord” (1 Sm 3). Samuel’s “yes” was a decisive moment in his life and in the history of salvation.

Similarly, the simple yes spoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary—“Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk 1:38)—was fully supported by her cousin Elizabeth, who recognized that Mary was the mother of her Lord and blessed among all women.

When was the last time that you encouraged a young woman or man to say “yes” to God’s special call? How well do we support our seminarians or deacon candidates, women and men discerning a vocation to the consecrated life, those who are engaged to be married or those who believe they may be called to witness to their faith as single people?

God calls each one of us to respond to his personal invitation. He also asks us to encourage and support one another in the discernment and faithful living of our vocations.

God is calling. How shall we respond to him—with reluctance or fear, or with a confident and enthusiastic “Yes”?

—Daniel Conway

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