Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It’s National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 5-11). It’s also the end of Daylight Saving Time. We’ll feel the darkness in a new way this week. But I think vocations are a kind of light, so it’s fitting that the two are tied together.
There’s a sense of international political darkness these days, as well. Many people respond to that darkness with anxiety. But the question of international political decisions is, for most of us, beyond our sphere of influence. The question of following our own vocation, however, and helping those close to us discover and follow theirs, is within our sphere of influence. So I want to propose that the best way to respond to the world’s darkness is to make a choice for the light of God’s call and to help others within our sphere of influence do the same.
All the readings for the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Nov. 9) shed some light on the issue of vocations.
Both Ezekiel 47 and Psalm 46 focus on “the river” as an image of God’s saving love flowing through history. That image ties into the question of vocations when we ask: How does God want the “river” of His saving love to flow into the world through me?
The natural and supernatural gifts that God gives each of us are the beginning of an answer to that question. In his Letter to the Romans, for example, St. Paul says: “I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Then he names the special way God’s love flowed through him: Paul’s call was to preach the Gospel where it had never been heard before.
So let’s ask each other: What’s the special way God’s love flows into the world through you? The most important way we can respond to the world’s darkness is to let that light increase in us.
The First Letter to the Corinthians, the Gospel and the Office of Readings all speak of the Temple. Jesus speaks of the temple of His body. St. Paul — building on the idea that we are members of Christ’s body — says: “You are God’s building … You are the temple of God.” And the Office of Readings develops a beautiful parallel between church architecture and the way we live our lives: “Whenever we come to church we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect this church to be … Just as you enter this church building, so God wishes to enter into your soul.”
At each turn, these points touch on the question of vocations. We become members of Christ’s body, but each of us is a different part of the body. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit gives us different gifts. Church buildings are images of Christian souls, but church buildings differ from one another, just as people do. In each case, there’s a particular call and a particular gift that we carry from God into the world. The question of vocations is a matter of discerning the gift and staying true to it.
We end the week by marking the celebration of Veterans Day (Nov. 11). For myself, and on behalf of the Church, I thank those who responded to the call to serve our country! I think they offer a fitting challenge to every one of us: How will we respond to the call to serve God?