One of the many preoccupations at the back of our minds today is to give a sense of purpose to our life. This has been more so with the youth of all times, as it is expressed by the question of the rich young man in Mark’s gospel: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
(Mk 10:17-22) Pope John Paul II, in one of his teachings said that this young man’s question is similar to what we ask ourselves when we are faced with our career choice, our personal vocation and mission here on earth.
In other words, the young man was asking Jesus the questions that we often ask ourselves today: What must I do so that my life may have meaning? What is God’s plan for my life? What is the purpose of my life and what am I doing here anyway?
Today, if we were to ask Jesus the above questions, he would most likely respond to us in the same way that he answered the rich young man with a simple “Follow me.” To follow Christ means to discover our vocation.
It means to find out what God wants us to be. It is an urge to discover our mission or our purpose of life. We must keep on asking ourselves what God wants us to do; that is the reason of our being.
We are a project of God, and he would like to uses everyone right where he or she is, to accomplish his purpose. It is therefore a legitimate question to ask ourselves such questions and nobody should take himself or herself for granted.
We all have a personal and special vocation and mission, and we have a special place reserved in God’s plan in accordance to our talents, gifts and abilities.
Prophet Jeremiah tells us that God had had us in mind long before we were born: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
(Jeremiah 1:5) These words are relevant to each person’s situation, because they show us that God knows us by name. “I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Is 43:1).
In his gospel, John shows us how Jesus chose his first disciples and he stresses the fact that in front of God everybody matters. Although his disciples were simple folk, from the many fishermen near the Sea of Galilee, Jesus addressed each one of them in a personal way.
He did not call them together as a group with ‘Hey, you there’. John tells us that they were treated as people with their distinct identity.
Andrew found his brother Simon and he told him that they had found the Messiah. When they reached him, Jesus spoke to Simon and he called him Peter.
(Jn.1:35 ff) In the same way, that God interacted with Andrew, and Simon, so does he use our names when dealing with us. Your name is the ultimate sign of respect that you deserve.
It is your distinctive designation as a person which makes you distinguishable from the anonymous entity in a group. That is why God calls each one of us by name, in order to speak to us individually in our hearts.
At this point, we may ask ourselves how God calls us these days and what should be our response to his call. Today, it is evident that God still calls his people. He does it in many different ways.
He may do in a simple way through the people with whom we rub shoulders daily, using them to help us discover who we are and what we were made for.
At times he may do this through the daily signs we get, or through many circumstances and opportunities which surround us.
In order to give meaning to our life, we must strive to say yes to God’s call. We should do this by adopting a sense of exploration and adventure in seeking our personal vocation and mission.
It might not be easy always to notice God’s voice since he approaches each individual in a different way. For some his call might seem gentle and very subtle.
For others, it might be hard to identify. While for some it might happen in a very obvious way and pointing to a certain plan of action.
In all this, it is essential to keep in mind that God is there always to cooperate with our choices. He chooses as he wishes in order to accomplish his purpose, just as he called the ordinary fishermen of his day so does he call us today.
In his teaching, Pope John II stressed the fact that discovering the Lord’s will in our lives is not easy. It involves so many things like a receptive listening to the word of God and a faithful discernment of the gifts and talents given to us by God, as well as the diverse social and historical situations in which we live.
We must live a meditated life and stay attentive enough to recognise the call of God deep in our heart. We all have the duty of discerning how God speaks to us. Once we recognise that voice, then we need to respond as Samuel did: “Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.”
Once we succeed in doing this, then we have not only achieved success, but we attain as well a high degree of self fulfilment and of faithfulness to our creator.