How do we celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov 6-12, 2016)? Our Church sets this week aside “to foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.” Primarily, it is a reminder to pray for vocations to these specific vocations.
While we certainly experience the need for more of these specific vocations, our awareness needs to be of the broadness of vocation as well. When we talk about “vocation,” we are talking about God’s call in our whole lives beginning with our baptism. When Jesus is asked about which commandment is most important, “Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
In the celebration of Baptism, the responsibility of the parents is laid out based upon this Bible passage. It says, “It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.” Then the parents receive this question, “Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?” That easy answer of “We do” appears to be simple, but I think this is why we need vocation awareness week. Loving God and neighbor is a daily activity and not easy.
This fundamental vocation is truly like breathing. As life requires breath, so our spiritual life requires loving God and neighbor. We live when we love! You may be asking how I can make such a claim, but I have seen it over and over again.
I have never experienced the reality of not being able to catch my breath. I do not know what it is like to have any type of COPD like emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Yet, those who experience these things appreciate their breaths like never before.
People often respond to God’s call after something traumatic and it appears that faith is something only connected to a crisis. But like breathing, it is there all the time until we feel like we are losing it. Our ability to love God and neighbor is always there until we experience a world without love and that world is a very scary place. Our baptismal call to love God and neighbor becomes profoundly important.
Vocation awareness week calls us to appreciate God’s call to love within our lives. It is the spiritual breath we need to live every day.
In Christ, Fr David