Christian vocation is a call to live out a particular spirituality. It is a way of life guided and empowered by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 49:1-7. Gal. 1:15-16.
God’s Spirit is in my heart, he has called me and set me apart…
St. Paul often speaks about Christian vocation in terms of ‘walking in the Spirit.’ Without the activity of the Spirit in us, it is not possible to follow Jesus, to accept his message and to live by his values. Spirituality is about being led by the Spirit as we commit ourselves to engage in the mission of Jesus in today’s world.
The Spirit is the principal agent of our vocation as Christians, Christians with a mission.
When Jesus sent his disciples on mission, it was as the Father had sent him, the risen Jesus breathed on them, saying, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22). In his Gospel, St. Luke characterises Jesus as a person of the Spirit with an urgent sense of mission. The Spirit leads Jesus and, at every turning point in his life, Jesus opens himself in prayer to the guidance and power of the Spirit. Mk. 1:35-39, 6:45-47 When St. Luke tells us the story of the mission of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles, he again emphasises that the Spirit is the driving force of mission. Acts.2; To be a Christian is to seek and co-operate with the Spirit of Jesus at work in today’s world.
To engage with the Spirit of Jesus is to stand with the poor
According to St. Luke’s Gospel, at the beginning of his mission, Jesus quotes from the prophet Isaiah, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor’ (Luke 4:18). He took the side of the poor and the outcasts. He challenged the structures and cultural practices of his day, which excluded people in any way from society and practice of religion. He healed people who were prevented from active worship of God because of ritual impurity, He cast out the evil demons that enslaved the people, freeing them to the fullness of humanity and in the image of the living God. To engage in the Spirit of Jesus, is to stand with the poor who are exploited today and to work for a situation and an environment in which no one is excluded from the blessings God wishes for all. It also involves action on behalf of the exploited earth from a deep respect for God’s creation. It is through God’s creation that we can see the love and beauty that God put into the world. “God so loved the world that he sent his Son”… (Jn 3:16) Through work for social and environmental justice, Christians discover and are evangelised by God’s Spirit moving in people’s lives and in the whole of creation.
We cross boundaries
The vocation of a Christian involves crossing boundaries of language, ethnic origin, culture and religion. We must go to peoples of different cultures and faiths to share what we have experienced in and through the Good News of Jesus Christ. In responding to Jesus’ call to proclaim his Good News, we realise that what we have is a gift to be freely offered, shared, but never to be imposed. But we are also conscious that our experience is always culturally limited and needs to be enriched through openness to other cultural practices and religious beliefs. We must be convinced that the Spirit of Jesus is at work in all cultures and religions, helping people to live together in just and loving relationships and leading them to experience God’s salvation. We seek and affirm the Spirit who is already active in people’s lives before we arrive on the scene, knowing that we have much to learn about the ways of the Spirit of Jesus. Our crossing of boundaries is an experience of giving and receiving.
The ongoing experience in the life of a Christian
Our Vocation is to respond to a call, rather than pursue a career. The ancient prophets insisted that they did not choose to be messengers of God, but were called to this role, often unexpectedly and without any clear understanding of how things would turn out. The Call of Gideon, Jgs.6:11-24. The call of Samuel, Sam. 3:1-21. The call of Jeremiah Jer. 1:4-10. The call of Isaiah, Is. 6:1-13. Jesus had a deep sense of being called by God and he invites us to join him in responding to that call. Mk.1:9-13, The mission of the disciples Matt.10:1-16, Matt. 28:16-20, Mk.16:16-20.You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit’ (John 15:16).The call is not just a one-off event, but an ongoing experience of life. It is an experience that is constantly evolving, being enriched and becoming. Each day is a time for hearing and responding to the call in the changing circumstances of life. Rom.5:1-5. Rom. 12:2. ‘Let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God- what is good and acceptable and mature.’
Knowing that we are called instils confidence, because the God who calls is the God who always empowers us to respond. Jn.17:21-23. But this also involves a commitment to learn, to study, to hear the word of God, to absorb it and to be absorbed by it. That is a risk that one must take in trust and faith, knowing that it means change. It means letting go of preconceived ideas and attitudes in order to follow the call of Christ and enter into a world with new eyes and heart.
Christians also enter partnerships for action
Our life is a journey with others who also hear the call, supporting and encouraging each other on the way. We are members of a missionary Church in which all are called to witness to Jesus Christ. The Spirit endows people in the Church with different gifts and ministries, which are meant to complement one another in our one mission to help establish the reign of God. The partnership of ordained and lay, highlights the missionary vocation of all the baptised and with the spirit, help us to explore new avenues of ministry in the Church. The way we relate to each other is meant to be a sign of the life-giving relationships we are promoting in the mission of Jesus and a challenge to a world often divided and in conflict on the basis of cultural differences.
Convinced that the Spirit of God moves everywhere, we even enter partnerships for action with people outside the Church whose vision and values are similar to our own. Ultimately, we are caught up in the mission of God through Jesus, who continues to reach out to all, inviting everyone to share the divine life and blessings as a people of God. We believe we are being constantly drawn into the community of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit and asked to live as loving people in our daily lives. We hope, we pray, we can do that faithfully and help others to respond to God’s ongoing outreach and invitation to them.