|Written by Michael Fones|
|Thursday, 26 April 2007 10:05|
Sunday's Gospel shows us Christ, the Good Shepherd who calls his sheep by name. For this reason, it's celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Many of us will hear homilies about answering the call to priesthood and religious life, and certainly there is a need for generous responses to those vocations.
I will preach about the unique call or vocation given to each one of us. It is more than just a call to a particular state of life, like marriage, priesthood, religious life, single life. Every call from God is an invitation to service, and to love. Most of us receive a multi-faceted call. Having discerned a call to priesthood and religious life (which did not end when I received the Dominican habit, but continued throughout my formation) did not mean that I was finished discerning my call!
The call is continuous, throughout our life. The Lord calls us to lead us ever deeper into Life, into relationship with Him, and into new adventures of service of our brothers and sisters. As you may have read on an earlier post, people in business have a call to operate not in accord with the world, which often uses devious practices, but to be transparent and honest, and work towards goals that benefit as many as possible without doing injustice to anyone. A physician may have a call to bring healing not only through his or her skill, but also through the love and heartfelt compassion offered to the patient, along with prayers to God for their healing.
Sometimes we hear of a seemingly hopeless situation in our own city, and wonder what we can do to respond. Barbara Elliott, one of our splendid Called & Gifted teachers, is the president of the Center for Renewal (http://www.centerforrenewal.org/), a resource center she founded in 1997 for faith-based organizations working to renew the inner cities of America. She is the author of Street Saints: Renewing America’s Cities (Templeton Foundation Press, 2004) based on more than three hundred interviews across the country of people. These are often ordinary folks who saw unremitting poverty, high rates of felon rescidivism, drug and alcohol addiction and said, "Jesus does not want this," and did something about it.
The people highlighted in Street Saints are ordinary folks who responded to a call that came to them in the form of a sense that *something* needed to be done about a certain situation, and no one else seemed to be doing anything, so...
They use their experience, their savvy, their education, but most of all their prayer and the Lord's guidance to achieve what many thought would be impossible. They gather collaborators, often one by one, who bring their own competence and experience to the table. And in the answering of their call, they come to be who God has intended from all eternity they should be. They experience the "fullness of life" promised by Jesus.
Because that is part of what is implied in being called "by name." In Jesus' society, a name was more than a moniker designating you from someone else. It said something about who you were to be. So Jesus, we are told, means, "Yahweh saves," and indeed He does through Jesus. The Lord calls each of us by name. Responding to our vocations means that we have the opportunity to fulfill the Lord's dream for us, which often is a dream beyond our feeble imagination.