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Homily – 3rd Sunday Ordinary Time (Vocations)

In today’s Gospel reading, we see Jesus offering a “call” to his Disciples. This call involves the idea of a “vocation.”  But before we can discuss the decision about one’s “vocation,” we need to distinguish between other types of decisions one makes in life.

the spirituality of ordinary life

In life, one has to make decisions about Three “Life Choices.” The first decision involves one’s occupation. This is about a job. It involves a choice that involves two parties where both give and receive. You give your time, your commitment, your talent and you receive money, benefits, personal satisfaction, further training, etc…

The second involves your avocations. These are you interests and hobbies, items that enhance your life and offer opportunities for you to enjoy your self. These are choices, which are primarily about receiving something. Finally one makes decisions about one’s vocation. This is primarily about giving. A vocation is a life-path chosen to reach out and give to, and serve others and involves a supernatural “call.”

I was browsing some materials from the St. Catherine of Siena Institute.  Founders Sherry Weddell and Father Michael Sweeney, O.P. have given presentations on the topic of vocations in some of their materials. So let’s look closer at the idea and characteristics of a vocation.

  • Vocations are offered and received, they are not “chosen.”
  • Vocations are fully revealed only as it unfolds, not according to a plan of one’s own creation.
  • Vocations are bigger than we are.
  • There is no retirement from a vocation although you can stop active work within it or reduce its effectiveness.
  • But no matter what you do in your vocation, supernatural “call” remains.

vocation saying

I mentioned earlier that, “vocations are offered and received, they are not “chosen.”  Thus discernment plays an important role in vocations. There are 4 ways or avenues through which a vocation is discerned:

1.Through Divine Revelation. This is done by examining the Scripture, attentiveness to the Church’s teaching and through the experience of others.

2. Self-Knowledge. This involves your own personality, your natural gifts, your supernatural charisms, your own life experiences and skills acquired through those experiences, cultural factors and family background as well.

3. One must examine and ask questions about the needs, joys and opportunities of the time and place in which you now live and how you see yourself fitting into and meeting those.

4. Finally, vocation discernment involves a wise spiritual director, guide or mentor.

These are BIG questions with huge personal consequences. The entire process can seem daunting and intimidating. So where does one begin?  Look at today’s Gospel.  Jesus is gentle and a gentleman. He doesn’t force, he doesn’t push. He met the Disciples where they were and simply asked them to come, spend some time with him and talk. He does the same today with us. Where to start?

  • “Hang out” with Christ. This involves personal prayer, Mass and Confession on a regular basis (probably once each month).
  • Offer yourself to God or simply ask God the question, “What should I be doing?” What will make me happy and fulfilled?”
  • Do the next, obvious, do-able, concrete thing.  This is probably a small and easy-to-perform task like reading a book, checking out something on vocations on the Internet or talking with someone.

Along the way you will find that suddenly you run into a series of “coincidences” in your life (By the way, a Religious Sister once told me that “coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous”). There is always a certain mystical and mysterious aspect of vocations and taking your relationship with God seriously.

But it’s worth it.

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(Audio version of homily here)…

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