In his 2009 book, “The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life,” developmental psychologist William Damon laments how the concept of “calling” or vocation has been relegated to being a romantic fantasy. Overemphasis on work or career contributed to this “fallout.”
Yet, study after study shows that a sense of purpose, meaning or mission does make a tremendous amount of difference in the success and satisfaction of people who have discovered their mission and are inspired by it.
This Sunday’s readings are replete with images of call and response: Samuel in the first reading’s “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”; the responsorial psalm, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will”; and the Gospel’s call of the first disciples, “Come, and you will see.”
Let us draw three points from these readings: Come, see and listen.
In today’s call narrative, the first disciples ask where Christ is staying and the invitation is issued, “Come, and you will see.” This tells us the importance of presence—to be present in the moment and to be present with one another.
I think that the three years Christ’s disciples stayed with him was a period of presence, a “come, and you will see” phase. It was a time to be present with Christ, watching and listening. But the “see and listen” phases are deepened after the Resurrection.
As the Risen Lord commands the women, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go back to Galilee and there they will see me.” It was a repeat of “Come, and you will see,” but this time it’s from the eyes of the Risen Christ.
Here lies the deeper call, the “missioning,” when the disciples are entrusted to continue Christ’s mission and sent out to the world.
It’s a mission of discernment: to see and to listen to the needs of others, and to respond in love and service in the same way Christ did. It is a dynamic movement of remembering, reflecting/discerning and acting.
I recall how a young girl, speaking to Pope Francis and in front of tens of thousands of youth gathered three years ago in the University of Santo Tomas, wondered about the evils of the world and why children are subjected to such evils.
Pope Francis watched and listened, he saw and he heard, and he acted in a way that made the world better for the young girl and for all of us. He stood up and, without words, embraced the weeping girl.
It was a moment when we all felt Christ’s presence, his compassion and mercy embracing the most vulnerable among us. This is Pope Francis’ mission: to proclaim God’s mercy, God’s mercy that embraces the marginalized, the poor, the sinners.
Most people begin with a sense of God inviting them. Pope Francis did so as a young man. After going to confession, overwhelmed by God’s mercy, he experienced this call.
This started his journey to the priesthood. Almost six decades later, he fulfilled his calling and mission to proclaim God’s mercy as the Vicar of Christ, the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church.
Come, see, and listen—these are the essentials of our calling and our mission, the dynamic movement of remembering, reflecting/discerning, and acting that becomes a way of life, transforming our life into one of loving and serving.
In the end, it is acting with great love and great service that defines our mission. It is not the greatness of the act, but the greatness of the love with which the act is made that serves humanity and makes the world a better place. —CONTRIBUTED