It’s that time of year — we’re about four weeks from the mid-term elections. So we get lots of phone calls: “Vote for me.” “Don’t vote for her.” “Take part in our town hall meeting.” Everyone wants our attention to get something done.
God’s the same way.
No, God isn’t seeking votes. But God does want our attention. And he’s not resorting to robocalls. God is personally calling you. Yes, the “you” in a mirror each morning.
The Catholic bishops are now meeting in Rome for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” And if you don’t think it applies to you, think again.
“Vocation and its discernment is not limited to religious life or to marriage. It is an everyday process that is reflected in my work, whereby fulfilling my tasks I can grow in holiness,” said Viktoria Zolnova, one of three dozen synod young adult observers. Zolvona, a youth minster from Slovakia, spoke to the bishops Oct. 9. Her comments were shared with Catholic News Service.
Zolnova told the bishop how she had been working as an office manager, but felt called to something else. “I was missing that deep satisfaction and joy that comes from well-accomplished work.”
“Vocation” comes from the Latin verb vocare, which means “to call.” The earlier Greek root word — kaleo — also means “to call,” but can also means “to invite,” as one would call a friend for lunch.
Last Sunday, we heard the Gospel about the rich young man. Jesus asked him to sell everything, give to the poor and “follow me.” We know the man walked away sad. But no one ever said if he came back. Did he miss that “deep satisfaction and joy?”
Each of the apostles received a call: Peter, James and John did while fishing; Andrew while following the Baptist; Matthew was collecting taxes. Still others heard calls unique to their circumstances: Zaccheus, while climbing a tree; the woman at the well, while avoiding the town gossips; and Paul, while he was harassing early Christians.
Each of us is also called during our daily lives. St. John Paul II, in his apostolic letter on vocations and lay people, said God’s “call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the church and the world” (Christifidelis laici, 2).
No, it’s not easy, as the rich young man and the observers at the current synod know: “I knew it would be difficult for me to leave everything behind,” Zolnova said. She likened herself to Moses, whom God called to lead people from Egypt.
Moses was middle-aged when God called. King David was just a shepherd boy when God anointed him through the aged Samuel. Abraham was very old when God sent him out of his homeland. Different people in different ages, but they shared something in common: faith, trust and a good ear.
As Paul told the Corinthians, “There are different gifts, but the same Spirit; there are different ministries, but the same Lord; … To each person, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1Cor 12:4-7).
Vatican II also spoke of God’s personal calls: “The council, then, makes to all the laity an earnest appeal in the Lord to give a willing, noble and enthusiastic response to the voice of Christ, who at this hour is summoning them more pressingly, … inviting all the laity to unite themselves to him ever more intimately, to consider his interests as their own and to join in his mission as Savior” (“Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People,” 33).
So, even if you don’t answer political phone calls this month, here’s one call we best not ignore. Just remember what Zolnova felt as she left her office job behind: “God was calling me to do something new and he was showing me the way.”
If you want the “deep satisfaction and joy” this young woman from Slovakia feels, just keep listening for the call. God is more persistent than any political candidate.