doors open wide

Aug 3, 2015

I invite you to join with me in prayer this week for the young men of St. Bede’s College Christchurch as the school spends the week focussed on vocations. This week-long event is an inspired initiative, begun a few years ago, and now a part of the annual school rhythm. The aim (as stated in the promotion material) is to help the boys of the College to “encounter Jesus more deeply and also to pray for the boys during vocations week that they might hear the Lord’s call and respond.”

The key sacrament of vocations is baptism. At your baptism, the God who created you and loves you, chose you and marked you for a particular service, a unique life that only you can live. Such a specific calling does not limit your options or reduce your freedom. Instead your awareness of a vocational call opens doors for you and offers you a way of living life as the ultimate and abundant adventure in relationship with God.

Too often young people wrestle with a myriad of good options trying to decide which field of study to pursue or what career choice to make. This decision making process involves awareness of personal skills and interests, job opportunities, and also takes into account the advice of helpful people.  This is a useful process, but the outcome can be nothing more than a great career that I enjoy, which brings me a degree of earthly happiness and provides a good level of job security and financial benefit.

Why is it then that people who have everything that a well-chosen career can provide still reflect that it is not enough?

And so we think that if we add a loving relationship with someone to love and to be loved by, and even have a healthy and loving family, that will fill the gap? But the gap remains.

Our hearts remain restless.

The truth is that only a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ can bring ultimate meaning and happiness to a human life.  If you have a foundational purpose in life, you can live any circumstances however difficult. An active relationship with God in Jesus Christ makes a human life abundant, free, beautiful and great.  The fulness of this life is available to every baptised person. This is what it means to live vocationally.

The one who seeks to live this relationship with Jesus Christ every moment will still have to make choices about study and work options, but the person living vocationally is freed from expecting these decisions to meet their every human need. The one living vocationally can therefore keep things in perspective without falling victim to life’s inevitable disappointments and sufferings.

I find the encouragement of Pope Benedict (quoting Pope John Paul) really helpful. At the end of his first homily as pope ten years ago Pope Benedict said:

“At this point, my mind goes back to 22 October 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter’s Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: ‘Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!’ The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, he would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But he would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.”

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