Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome back! I know that summer was really short and we would like to have just one more week, but Labor Day is always a sign that life gets back on track. I hope that you had some time to relax, visit family, rest, or stay home and get to those projects that we were waiting for the summer to do. Today I would like to reflect on vocation. We often speak and pray for more vocations, but what is this “vocation”? What does it mean?
The word “vocation” has the etymological roots in the Latin word vocare, “to call” or to “be called.” The youth would cite the definition from Wikipedia, which is the entry when you google it. It states that it “is an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained, or qualified.” Often vocation is referred to as the call to the priesthood, or the religious life in general. However, everyone is called by God. Surely not all are called to be priests or nuns. Vocation could also include marriage, to be a missionary and some even say that there is a call to live a single life. What is this “occupation” that God calls us, that we are “suited, trained and qualified” for? Wikipedia quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church citing “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.” (2392) In other words, God calls us, or we are called by God, to LOVE. We are suited, trained, and qualified to love. If you love as a priest, nun, spouse, or as a single person, that is secondary. The Second Vatican Council document called Lumen Gentium says that we are all called to holiness. Because of that we speak of the universal call to holiness. But the call to holiness is rooted in LOVE. It says that Love/Charity governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification. (LG 42). St Therese of Lisieux says that LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE - IT'S ETERNAL!
Please note that nowhere does it say who we should or should not love. It only says to love. Jesus himself commands us to Love “one another”, our neighbor. He goes further and explains how we should love one another, namely, “AS HE HAS LOVED US.” I understand that with some people it is more challenging to accomplish this mission. With others it might be impossible, or just beyond our human strength. That actually could be true, that’s why God has loved us first; He has filled our hearts with HIS LOVE. He suited, trained and qualified us not with our love, but with HIS LOVE. If our soul had a DNA sequence, it would read L-O-V-E instead of A-T-C-G. We inherited that “genetic code” from our (heavenly) Father. When God created us in his image and likeness, he created out of love and to love. In theology when reflecting about the creation of man and woman, we say that it was necessary to create a companion for Adam, otherwise he would never be able to love, to fulfill the essence of his life.
I would like to invite each of us this week to reflect about the call that we all have received to love. When we see the world divided, polarized, and separated in so many groups, ideologies, political parties, only love is capable of uniting. The Jewish scholars say that when the Jews settled in Babel, they lost their love for one another and that’s why they began to speak all different languages. No one understood each other, because they all looked for their own interest instead of the common good! Let’s all overcome our needs, to lower our fences to be able to see our neighbor and his needs. As St. Francis said to his brothers as he was sending them to preach all over Europe, “preach always, when necessary, use words.”
As this week we remember the birth of Mary, we recall that God planned ahead of time for Mary to be the dwelling place for the Son. You should rejoice too! God has chosen you to be his dwelling place as well!
Father Steven Clemence