This morning Father Currie opened his homily with an anecdote. A boy asked him what he does when he’s not being a priest. And Father replied that he’s always a priest. (And told the boy what he does for recreation, which was the real jist of his question.) Then because the boy didn’t seem to quite get it, father said, he followed up by asking the boy is his mother stops being his mother when she’s out having coffee with friends or at the gym, or at work. No, the boy said, of course not. Well, there you go, says Father. I never can stop being a priest any more that your mom can stop being a mom.
Then Father tied the discussion back to today’s Gospel and Jesus’ call to us to be salt and light. He emphasized the universal vocation to discipleship, not at some future date when we have grown up and have our act together but right now, today. He repeated that several times, talking to the boys and girls of the parish, they are called to be disciples, to bring the light of Jesus into everything they do, everywhere they go. Salt and light should be what we are no matter what we are doing.
I looked down at Lucy, cuddled in my lap, and thought about Father’s words. She too is baptized. She too, then, must be called to discipleship right now and not just at some future date. She too is salt and light, today, here, now, bringing the light of Christ to the world, bringing the savor of the Gospel into everything she does. And this is my job, to help her discern that vocation, to help her become the disciple she is meant to be. Every day, even today.
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In the Facebook discussion that ensued after Dom posted about this homily, we talked about how priesthood is not a job but a vocation. And a difficult one. But then all vocations involve carrying the cross, don’t they? Being a husband or wife, being a mother or father, these too demand sacrificial love, dying to self.
Also, we discussed the way we introduce children to the idea of vocations. Sometimes we emphasize the vocation to the priesthood and religious life to the exclusion of marriage and family. Sometimes we emphasize the vocations to family and religious life, but don’t really tell people what to do when they are single, or how to live the vocation to marriage when you are childless.
There does seem to be some debate as to whether there is a specific “vocation to the single life” that is separate and above the universal vocation to discipleship we all have from our baptism. But I think that’s a sort of quibbling over theological terms. The fact is each of us does have a unique, specific call right now where we are today. As Father Currie said, vocation isn’t only in the future but in the now in whatever state of life we happen to be in. If you are single right now, God is calling you to follow him and use your specific talents right now. If you are married without kids, God is calling you to follow him in that state of life. We never know what the future may hold. A single person may discern a vocation to religious life or to the priesthood or to marriage at any point or may never hear a specific call to one of those states, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t called to discipleship. And that’s what we really need to hear, how to focus on discerning God’s call in the circumstances of each day.