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Pontifical Work for Ecclesiastical Vocations
New Vocations for New Europe

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  • PART TWO THEOLOGY OF VOCATION
    • 17
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The Son calls us to follow Him

17. "Lord show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied" (Jn 14, 9).

This is Philip's request of the Lord on the eve of His passion. It is the yearning for God, present in the heart of every person: to know his own roots, to know God. Man is not infinite, he is immersed in the finite; but his desire turns towards the infinite.

And the disciples are surprised by Jesus' response: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14, 9).

a) Sent by the Father to call mankind

The Father has created us in the Son, "who reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature" (Heb 1, 3), predestining us to be conformed to His image (cf Rom 8, 29). The Word is the perfect image of the Father. In Him is the Father made visible, the Logos through whom "he has spoken to us" (Heb 1, 2). His whole being is in "being sent", to bring God, as Father, close to men and women, to reveal His face and His name to them (Jn 17, 6).

If man is called to be a son of God, therefore no-one better than the Incarnate Word can "speak" to him about God and portray the image of a son. Hence, the Son of God, coming to this earth, has called us to follow Him, to share His life, His word, His death and resurrection; even His sentiments.

The Son, the one sent by God, is made man in order to call mankind: the one sent by the Father is the caller of mankind.

Therefore there does not exist a passage of the Gospel, or a meeting, or a dialogue, that does not have a vocational significance, that does not express, directly or indirectly, a call of Jesus. It is as if His human engagements, provoked by the most diverse circumstances, were for Him an opportunity for confronting the person with the strategic question: "What will I do with my life?", "What is my path?".

b) The greatest love: to give one's life

To what does Jesus call us? To follow Him so as to be and act like Him. More particularly, to live the same relationships that He has with the Father and with all people: to welcome life as a gift from the hands of the Father in order to "lose" and pour out again this gift on those to whom the Father has entrusted it.(32)

There is a unifying trait in the identity of Jesus which constitutes the full meaning of love: mission. It expresses its oblational nature which attains its supreme epiphany on the cross: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15, 13).

Therefore every disciple is called to repeat and relive the sentiments of the Son, which are synthesised in love, the decisive motivation of every call. But, above all, every disciple is called to make visible the mission of Jesus, is called for the mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20, 21). The structure of every vocation, indeed its maturity, lies in continuing Jesus in the world so as, like Him, to make of one's life a gift. The sending-mission is in fact the instruction of the eve of Easter (Jn 20, 21) and is the last word before ascending to the Father (Mt 28, 16-20).

c) Jesus, the formator

Every person called is a sign of Jesus: in some way His heart and hands continue to embrace the little ones, to cure the sick, to reconcile sinners and to allow Himself to be nailed to the cross for love of all. Being for others, with the heart of Christ, is the mature face of every vocation. Therefore it is the Lord Jesus who is the formator of those who call, the only one who can mould in them His same sentiments.

Every disciple, responding to His call and allowing himself to be formed by Him, expresses the truest traits of his own choice. Accordingly "the recognition of Him as Lord of life and history, brings with it the self-recognition of the disciple (...) The act of faith necessarily brings together ?Christological recognition' and ?anthropological self awareness'".(33)

Hence the pedagogy of the Christian vocational experience evoked by the Word of God: "And He (Jesus) appointed twelve, to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mk 3, 14). In order to be lived in its fullness, as gift and mission, the Christian life needs strong motivations and, particularly, profound communion with the Lord; in listening, in dialogue, in prayer, in the interiorisation of sentiments, in allowing oneself every day to be formed by Him and especially in the ardent desire to communicate to the world the life of the Father.

d) The Eucharist: the instruction for the mission

In all of the catecheses of the early Christian community the centrality of the Paschal Mystery is clear: to proclaim Christ who died and rose again. In the mystery of the bread broken and the blood poured out for the life of the world the believing community contemplates the supreme epiphany of love, the giving of the life of the Son of God.

Therefore in the celebration of the Eucharist, the "summit and source"(34) of the Christian life, the greatest revelation of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world is celebrated; but at the same time is celebrated the identity of the ecclesial community brought together in order to be sent, called for the mission.

In the community celebrating the Paschal Mystery every Christian takes part and enters into the style of the gift of Jesus, like Him, becoming bread broken to be offered to the Father for the life of the world.

In this way the Eucharist becomes the source of every Christian vocation; at the Eucharist every believer is called to conform himself to the risen Christ totally offered and given. He becomes an icon of every vocational response; as in Jesus, in every life and in every vocation, there is a difficult fidelity to be lived even to the extent of the cross.

He who participates in the Eucharist welcomes the invitation-call of Jesus to "do this in memory" of Him, in the sacrament and in life, to live "remembering", in the truth and liberty of daily choices, the memorial of the cross, to fill one's existence with gratitude and gratuity, to break one's own body and to pour out one's own blood. Like the Son.

In the end the Eucharist generates the witness, prepares the mission: "Go in peace". We move from the encounter with Christ in the sign of the Bread to the encounter with Christ in every person. The believer's commitment is not exhausted in going into, but in coming out of the temple. The response to the call encounters the history of the mission. Fidelity to one's own vocation springs from the source of the Eucharist and is measured in the Eucharist of life.




32) Therefore, as we are reminded by the Congress, "only in living contact with Jesus Christ the Saviour can young people develop the capacity for communion, bring to maturity their personality and make a decision for Him" (Propositions, 13).



33) IL, 55.



34) Sacrosanctum concilium, 10.






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