In my previous two articles I have reflected with you on the universal call to holiness. I want to continue that reflection here. We are all called to become saints. Sanctity, or holiness, is the full flowering of the grace of our Baptism lived from the heart of the Church. Holiness is God’s life and love made perfect within us.
Like the young man who approached Jesus in the Gospel, we may wish to ask, “What must I do to become holy, that is, to inherit eternal life?” (cf. Mt. 19:16) As Jesus taught the young man, it begins with keeping the commandments, observing the law. That is foundational for everyone. But is there something more? Yes, there is. Holiness is God’s work within us, but it requires our cooperation.
Within the framework of the universal call to holiness, each baptized person receives a unique and particular calling. Our personal vocation specifies the particular path by which each of us pursues holiness as a Christian disciple. Our vocation is a very personal gift from God. Our vocation is not our job or our career. It is a divine calling. Our personal vocation determines in a very practical way how we live our lives as disciples and stewards in order to become the holy men and women God has created us to be. For example, the specific path of holiness appropriate for a monk is very different from that of a parish priest who has been entrusted with the care of a parish. A young mother, a widowed farmer and a university student will grow in holiness under very different circumstances by being faithful to the demands of their own vocations. Holiness is possible for all, but we will grow in holiness by living faithfully and generously the authentic responsibilities of our own vocation, whether that involves study in the case of a student, or taking care of children and a spouse in the case of a mother or father. Holiness is pursued and realized in the midst of the ordinary relationships, challenges and duties of each one’s personal vocation.
Every vocation from God is both a gift and a task. We have a choice whether to accept or reject the Lord’s invitation and plan for our life; whether to follow him, or seek instead to make our own way. Like the rich young man who went away sad after Jesus’ invitation to sell all and follow him, we can turn away. (Mt 19:22). We can refuse the gift.
If we wish to be good stewards of the gift of our vocation, we need to prepare ourselves to receive this gift gratefully, to respond to God’s call generously, and then to live it faithfully. Practically speaking, this means that we have to truly believe that God does have a plan for our life, and then seek to discover what God’s plan may be. We have to pray for divine light and guidance. We have to seek the grace of freedom and the courage to say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38).
To be continued…