This Sunday the gospel reading is taken from St. John and is really preparatory for next Sunday’s reading taken from St. Mark. This Sunday John has “The Baptist” telling his disciples to turn their allegiance to Jesus (which they do); next Sunday in Mark the same disciples will be called by name. To borrow from the realtor’s world, one might say it’s all about
“VOCATION, VOCATION, VOCATION.”
Once at a Pastoral Council meeting I asked those attending, “Do people see their lives as vocations?” I got a resounding “NO” in response. I must say I was a bit taken aback, a bit startled by the response. Naively I thought that by now, since the call for “the emergence of the laity” in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, people had moved on from thinking that vocations only had to do with ordination, vows, or marriage.
As we ponder once again the call by Jesus of the apostles and first disciples, let us seize the opportunity to consider our own call by name—our own baptismal call. First of all it is the Creator, who “knew us before we were knit in our mother’s womb,” who calls us. It is Jesus who calls each and every one of us by name to “come and follow him.” It is the Spirit that dwells in us that helps us to hear the call and to make our response. This is VOCATION. This is to say that it is not our career or profession that constitutes our vocation; it is who we are with our personality and gifts—it is nothing less than our own unique journey to the Father and to the Kingdom.
Neither “Spouse of Joseph” nor “Mother of God” sums up Mary’s vocation. Think about it. “Baptist” does not sum up the vocation of John the Baptist any more than “apostle” sums up the vocation of Simon Peter or his brother Andrew. Just so, while your career, profession, or any other particular state in life that you claim might tell a lot about you, they do not even come close to telling all about your call—your vocation. Your whole life is your vocation. All of who you were, are, and will be is your vocation. Another way of putting it: when someone only knows Fr. Richard as priest (I guarantee), they know precious little about him.
To the extent that we relegate the word vocation to the result of vows and ordination, we do ourselves a disservice in bracketing out or minimizing the whole rest of our baptismal call. After all, anyone baptized may lay claim to the words and prayers of that sacrament: “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may YOU live always as a member of his Body…”
During our celebration of the Eucharist today, then, from the words of John the Baptist to his disciples, we should understand anew and forever hear his words at every Mass—as words of VOCATION: “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” Now follow HIM! Living life as a vocation sanctifies our ordinary, daily lives. And so “Blessed are those CALLED to the supper of the Lamb.”