On Matthew’s response to his Vocation.
“This passage of the Gospel shows us that a vocation is something about which we should be very grateful and happy. If we see it only in terms of renunciation and giving things up, and not as a gift from god and something which will enhance us and redound to others’ benefit, we can easily become depressed, like the rich young man who, not wanting to give up his possessions, went away sad. Matthew believes in quite the opposite way, as did the Magi who gave much more importance to adoring the new-born God than to all the inconveniences involved in traveling to see him.”
~ Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 5:27-29 (p. 71)
I read this passage the other day and it took me somewhat by surprise. In considering my own discernment, while I have recognized what a joy it is supposed to be to know one's Vocation, and while I know a Vocation is a gift, I have not often pondered that fact.
I tend to focus on the “negative”, i.e. the “giving up” part. In my current state, that means a lot of practical stuff that HAS to be considered in order to be handled properly. I’m not a BIT sad about giving up my house (please, someone TAKE the thing!), I’m not sad about not having a car to myself, or even of getting rid of belongings. I don’t use most of the stuff in my house, but it’s overwhelming, to say the least, to think about HOW to make it all go away!
The other facet of the “negative” (a term I’m using rather loosely) has also been the focus on, most recently, the austerity of a community that has come to my attention. I’ve considered the seeming lack of freedom, even knowing how freeing it would be, truly, if that is where God is calling me for the rest of my days.
The sad thing, though, is that I’ve not really spent time considering Vocation as a special gift from God. It may be important to look practically at our lives and what we have to do to say “yes”, for a verbal fiat isn’t enough…that response requires action, and action often requires at least a certain amount of faith that one is doing the right thing.
Divorced from the understanding of Vocation as a gift, everything else becomes an exercise in randomness, in following rules, in “doing this because I have to” as opposed to the joyful exclamation of, “I’m doing this because I love God so much it’s the only thing I CAN do in response to Him!”
Ultimately, no matter what Vocation we are called to, (Married, Priesthood, Religious, even Single) we have to see the gift intended for us. We have to see the offering of Christ before us, who has been so generous that He invites us to share in His Divine Life in a very special way, intended specifically for us. And in our acceptance of that gift, we must recognize the love, the preparation, and yes, the sacrifice that has gone into it.
Finally, when we can see that, we are prompted to do the same in return, for rarely is a gift one-sided. If God can give Himself so fully to us, what can possibly stop us from offering the full gift of ourselves in return?
Truly, we possess nothing. As we were reminded on Ash Wednesday, we are dust, and to dust we will return. But now, we have life, and we are called to live life eternally, both body and soul (for even our dust will rise and become glorified). We are called to allow Christ to live in us and through our very hands, shining from our hearts and souls.
Pondering our Vocation means that we are asking the important question of what we are going to do with the dust that we are, this gift of life God has given us? He gave that gift freely, and calls us in a way to offer it back, but we must make that choice…freely. Our response to God is to honestly seek and follow through on the Vocation to which He is calling us. Our Vocation is our spiritual foundation, the way we will become holy as Our Father in Heaven is Holy. It is what He called us out of eternity to become, and this is always a very generous gift.
We, too, are called to that generosity, which should inspire in us a profound gratitude for that Call, and a joyful reaction to follow Our Lord wherever He leads. Our Lord does not promise that it will be easy, but He does promise He will be with us.
All we have to do when Christ extends His hand is to reach back, take it up, and follow Him. And the ONLY response to such a gift…is joy.