|1 Peter 1:3-9
Psalm 111:1-2, 5-6, 9, 10
When Catholics speak about vocations, the passage most frequently quoted is from today's gospel story of The Rich Young Man. Traditionally this vocation story has been applied exclusively to the priestly and the religious vocation, "Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
Since Vatican Council II Catholics have become increasingly uncomfortable with an understanding of vocation that is limited to priest and religious. Catholics are joining fellow Christians in acknowledging that God calls every Christian to serve the Kingdom and so every Christian has a vocation. God gives us each special human talents and supernatural graces for this service. Through the Spirit working deep in our hearts God moves us to put these talents (or charisms) at the service of the human family. And fortunate are we Christians when we respond to God's Spirit and embrace fully our personal vocations; our response is not only our most effective way to serve the human family but also our path to deepest personal peace and happiness. I resonate with Frederick Buechner's description of vocation as "the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
This meeting of deep gladness and the world's hunger remains true of the priestly and religious vocation. Indeed, today's saint, Augustine of Canterbury, heard the call, joined the fledgling Benedictine movement, and in 596 was sent by Pope Gregory to bring Christianity to England. He became the Apostle of England and the first archbishop of Canterbury, finding his deep gladness in serving England's deep hunger.
But this meeting of deep gladness and the world's hunger applies to the vocation of every faith-filled Christian. First the Spirit leads us to our distinctive states in life -- married, single, priestly, religious -- and then the Spirit leads us to our distinctive career paths in the professions, in business, in service industries. Whether we are blue collar or white collar workers, we are called to serve our world's deep need and so find our personal happiness.
And we need not fear any vocation God gives, even if it entails trials. Peter in our first reading reminds us that in this world we " may have to suffer through various trials" but in the end we can "rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls."
Let us pray pray for the courage both to know and also to embrace
fully our personal vocations and so find that deep gladness that can come
only from God.
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