Vocations or the Mystery of the Call of God
Our Christian life has its place in the mystery of the Call of God. We are really called by God to Holiness. And it is God’s freewill to call whom he wants. It belongs to the unfathomable mystery of Divine Will. The Holy Spirit “breatheth where he wants”. In his Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul writes : (8,28-30) “And we know that to them that love God all things work together unto good : to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son : that he might be firstborn amongst many brethren. And whom he also called, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also glorified. “The vocation of all Christians is about the mystery of predestination. So it’s vain to try to find a reason why. It is useless to ask ourselves : “Why me ?“. We can only say : “It is God’s will”. That’s all. Of course, it is easier to receive the Call of God when you are in a Catholic family, but conversions and vocations appearing in totally different contexts tell us that the choice of God is Sovereign. In this excerpt from the Epistle to the Romans, the gradation in the call of God is well indicated by Saint Paul : predestination, the call, justification and then glory. The call of God has one goal : His glory, we are called by God in order to share in his glory, to enter the joy of our Lord ( Matt. 25,21 ), to possess the kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world ( Matt. 25,34 ).
As well this call to glory, as told by Saint Paul, there is Jesus’ call to his disciples : “Come ye after me, and I will make you to be the fishers of men” ( Matt. 4, 19 ). The goal for this call is not glory but mission : to be a fisher of men. On Holy Thursday, Jesus told his disciples : “ You have not chosen me : but I have chosen you ; and have appointed you, that you should go and bring forth fruit ; and your fruit should remain : that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you” ( John 15,16 ). So Jesus called his Apostles for the distinctive ministry of intercession. He made priests of them so that they should intercede in his Name in the presence of the Father and they received the power the holy sacrifice for the living and the dead. At last, Saint Paul often mentions this particular call of God at the beginning of his Epistles : “Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” ( Galath. 1,1 ). In his Epistle to the Romans, he precised : “separated unto the gospel of God” ( Rom. 1,1 ). So we can see there is a difference between these two vocations : one of them is in the line of the Sacrament of Baptism and the other has its achievement in the Sacrament of Order.
The aim of Christian Vocation is Jesus Christ to know him and to love him. Saint Paul used many expressions to explain it. In Corinthians, he speaks to those “that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ “(Corinth. 1,2 ). The holiness is to know “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ, in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1,27 ) or “You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth. To know also the charity of Christ which surpassed all knowledge : that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3, 18-19 ). But the priestly vocation is a very different reality, it is a ministry, the Apostles were called to preach, to pray in the name of Jesus Christ and to announce the Gospel. In his Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle beautifully describes the priestly vocation : “ For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins : Who can have compassion on them that are ignorant ant that ever : because he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And therefore he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was” (Heb. 5,1-4). A priest is firstly a pontiff, a mediator between God and men. He elevates the prayer of men to God, he offers sacrifices _ he is the one to offer Mass _ he knows how to be compassionate toward others’ weaknesses. He is the minister of mercy. His mediation is then in both ways : prayer which arises and divine favours which come down, Sacraments and the predication those who are still in the ignorance. Besides nobody can pretend to be given the honour of being a pontiff, unless he has been called by God. In the Old Testament, to become a priest, one had only to be born and nothing more : you had to belong to the Tribe of Levi. In the New Testament, Jesus makes his call to be heard down in the innermost part of the Soul and confirms it by a Bishop’s call.
This call is different from our vocation to Baptismal Faith as it is a call to be an Apostle mediator between God and men. All who are baptized are called to be united to Christ Holy and Glorified, but as for priests they are called to be united to Christ Sanctifying and Glorifying. Priests receive there ministry from God and the Church which is to sanctify souls and to offer the Sacrifice of Mass. In any Sacerdotal Vocation there definitely is an inner call. But one must be, and willing and able. The priestly vocation is not specified by these will and ability, but by the very call of the Bishop on Ordination Day. And this call is Vocation itself. It also gives to the priest his hierarchical mission : “Go and Preach”. In a few words, the will, the ability and the Call of the Bishop could sum up the Sacerdotal Vocation.
Father Roch Perrel