vocation—n, 1) a regular occupation for which a person is suited or qualified; 2) an inclination or aptness for a certain kind of work; 3) a calling of an individual by God
We have all been given our own vocations by the Lord. And He has distributed talents to each sufficient to permit us, through our own efforts and labor, to accomplish the things He commissions us to do. It requires commitment. It requires diligence. It often requires sacrifice. But it always points to that vocation to which He calls all of us by our own individual and separate paths, even while He joins us collectively into His one Body—the Church.
This vocation to which we are called is sainthood.
We could offer many definitions for saint. From the Latin sanctus it points to one who is holy. But then we need to define holy.
Instead, let us view saintliness as being set apart to serve the Lord. Saintliness requires the person who seeks such heights to cooperate with the teachings and commandments of the Lord. But even more importantly, it requires submission to the direction of the Holy Spirit. It points to one who lives in and for God’s grace.
Who are these people, and how would we recognize them as saints?
St. Paul teaches in today’s Epistle (Heb 11:33-12:2) that these people were/are those who worked miracles (they subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions, became valiant in battle, raised the dead to life…), who were reviled and persecuted (they had trials of mockings and scourgings, chained, imprisoned, stoned, slain by the sword…), who gave up this world in favor of life in the world to come (wandered about in skins, destitute, afflicted, tormented…).
But do not all of these descriptions suggest that such people are not OF this world? They are certainly IN it, but not OF it! St. Paul ends his description of these blessed ones by saying, “of whom the world was not worthy.”
Picture what St. Paul is explaining to us. The world sees these saints as the lowest form of life. No one wants a life as he describes these saints lived. They had NOTHING to which the world would assign any value.
Now, let me look at MY life. I seek “things”. I covet “things”. I want more than I already have, even while recognizing that I have more than I need.
I eat more food than I need. I do so to such an extent that it harms my physical well-being.
I judge neighbor and brother. I keep for myself all He has provided in plenty without concern about the needs of the destitute who literally surround me.
And yet, He calls even me to the vocation of becoming a saint!
The tools and talents He provided may have been squandered until now, but as with the Prodigal, through repentance He gives me a path to return. By prayer and fasting He gives a path to saintliness. By showing true love for those who have no one to love them He provides a means of fulfilling the vocation He laid out for me from the time before He blessed me to be conceived.
If only I act now to call on Him to help me to labor to be worthy of His love...