A day to remember God's call

An acute shortage of vocations is experienced in the Catholic Church. Vocations are drastically decreasing in India too. Concerned about this crisis, Pope Francis has proposed to study this issue in the forthcoming Synod on Young People.

A day to remember God's call

By Bishop Oswald Lewis
Vocation Sunday is celebrated by the Universal Catholic Church on the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is well known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The liturgical readings of this Sunday highlight the life of the shepherds, their love, care and concern for the sheep. The focus is on their faithfulness and commitment even to the point of death.

Calling himself the “Good Shepherd”, Jesus vouches to lay down his life for his sheep. Vocation is a call from God for a specific mission that you will see in the call of Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, the Prophets, Mary and John the baptist. The Apostles were chosen “That they might be with him and that he might send them forth to preach” (Mk 3:14).

Here we realize that vocation is a call for radical discipleship which means sharing the same destiny and dignity of the Master that involves: “Take up your cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24) “Go, sell what you possess and give it to the poor” (Mt 19:21)

Living the life of Gospel values with one's whole heart and mind is a call of every Christian. The Final Document of the Pre-Synodal Meeting of Young People on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” published in March 2018 states, “There is a need for a simple and clear understanding of vocation to highlight the sense of call and mission, desire and aspiration, which makes it a concept more related to young people at this stage of their life.”

The document further reports “The term 'Vocation' has become synonymous with the priesthood and religious life. While these are sacred calls that should be celebrated, it is important for young people to know that their vocation is by virtue of their life and that each person has a responsibility to discern what it is that God calls them to be and to do.”

“Ecclesial Vocations are manifestation of the immeasurable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8). Among the many vocations that the Holy Spirit never ceases to call forth in the people of God, the Vocation to Preisthood calls one to partcipate in the hierarchical priesthood of Christ and to be united with Him”.. (Ratio Fundamentalis No. 11)

An acute shortage of vocations is experienced in the Catholic Church. Vocations are drastically decreasing in India too. Concerned about this crisis, Pope Francis has proposed to study this issue in the forthcoming Synod on Young People. It is the mission of the Church “to care for the birth, discernment, and fostering of vocations”, particularly those to the priesthood.

Welcoming the voice of Christ, who asked all of us to pray the Lord of harvest to send labourers into his harvest (Mk 9:38, Lk 10:2) the Church gives partcular attention to vocation to the consecrated life and to the priesthood. Thus it is necessary that vocation offices be established and promoted in dioceses, regions and countries.

Leading an exemplary life, priests and religious, must bear witness to their calling. Prayer for vocation should be promoted in the dioceses and families. Families play an important role in promoting vocations. Hence family life, proper up-bringing of children and inculcating of Gospel values is essential. The Church should take all necessary steps to promote vocations.

(Bishop Oswald Lewis is the bishop of Jaipur)

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