Have you ever met someone who radiates joy? The type of person who smiles from the eyes…and forces you to ask yourself what you’re missing? What is it about someone who is so full of life that makes everyone else crave the same spark of joy?
Pope Francis said, “The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves.” What he means is a love for God, and a love for everyone else. Such love pulls us outside of our own person and instead, is jolted on to the object of our love. And at the heart of it is simply one thing: service.
Vocation is something we hear all too often as Christians, yet underestimate all the same. As Catholics, we often think vocation simply means one of two things: entering the religious life, or getting married. And while these two great calls are, in fact, vocations, the word vocation itself encompasses so much more. Vocation requires an awareness, an acceptance, and a commitment to a calling; it isn’t just about discernment. All too often, we miss the current state of our lives by focusing too much on our potential future call, or we stress about what we missed.
As individuals, we are called, regardless of our state in life, to enter into a deep and intimate relationship with God. From there, we are drawn outside of ourselves and we turn to the one we love: our Father. In knowing Him and loving Him, we learn to serve Him. In doing so, we stop thinking of our own needs, naturally trusting that He will provide, and we then, with Him guiding us, turn and serve our neighbor. Letting our hearts be emptied of self and filled with love of another is one of the greatest, yet most challenging, lessons we as Christians must learn. Subsequently, we are able to step fully into our current state of life and discern what we are truly called to.
Too frequently, Christians wander – they refuse to truly turn their lives over to Him, yet they wonder why they remain unfulfilled. We rush life too often, hoping we can make it happen on our own. And we make choices without the goal in sight, and then end up picking up the pieces and suffering.
In pursuing the callings of our lives, we must do so with such enthusiasm that those who greet us know to whom we belong. For married individuals: do you truly love your spouse? Do you live your life serving Him through the person you committed your life to? Is it clear that you are setting the world on fire by the love you have for God and your spouse? If not, what holds you back? Do you draw inward too often, craving your own needs and wants? Or do you externalize your love, pouring it on your husband or wife? For religious: is your enthusiasm about your vocation to the religious life really experienced by others? Is it obvious? Do you approach the Mass and service with a true servant’s heart, one that could only truly come from God?
In looking to the Saints, we are reminded of the joy they experienced, regardless of their current placement in this world. Whether serving the poor, clothing the naked, or dying a martyr’s death, the Saints were drawn outside of themselves and experienced a love for God and neighbor, rather than a love for self. And their holiness mattered – so much so that they are rejoicing in Heaven with our Creator.
What about you? Are you enthusiastic about cooking dinner, paying the bills, going on dates with your spouse, starting ministries, changing tires? Do you do your job well, with the heart of a lover? Or do you focus on yourself and what you receive in turn? It’s only in giving that we receive.
Are you ready to set the world on fire?
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Betsey Sawyer is an attorney and adjunct professor in Mississippi, and works for Women of Grace as the Mission Advancement Coordinator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Photo courtesy of Eliza Kennard Photography)