Gift of Love
Love is the fecund foundation of every vocation and a gift to offer. And this gift of Love results in a greater Love.
PUBLISHED ONFeb 2019
The challenge of vocation is, above all, a challenge of Love. A Love that must be discerned in order to listen and accept it. Love calls and summons always. It would be unthinkable if Love did not mean call, closeness and life of union.
This Love that springs from the deepest essence of the vocation is also a Love that calls and never tires of waiting for a response to the call. However, the time we dare to live in Love depends on each other. Sometimes we resist this call and our excuses deafen our heart, delaying the answer to this Love that calls in our life.
The favorable time to Love is always the “today,” the “here and now” that allows us to set up steps in the path we want to go. The first step is undoubtedly to take concrete steps in the path of discernment that is not done alone, but always presupposes a concrete accompaniment. From this stage it is possible to establish other steps that, little by little, make the path we follow more specific and, consequently, make possible the vocational experience that is a response to the Love that calls.
A Demanding Love
As it becomes evident, the Love that calls also demands: it demands an answer, it demands something concrete. A love that does not demand is not true love. Let us think of our mothers. If I love my mother, I wish her to be well, to be happy, even if it means having to do something against her will (for example, having an operation, eating when she has no appetite, taking medication, even if she does not fancy it).
If the experience of our relationships of Love are always demanding, much more so if we talk about a Love that is life and a deep demand to our being at all times of our existence. It could not be otherwise, if we think that it is this Love that we wish to be at the helm of our day to day life.
To respond to Love is to surrender to It, without conditions or restrictions. It is to dare, step by step, to walk and grow in this response, making our journey as part of our being and not as something extrinsic to us to which we wish to adhere.
The surrender to Love presupposes seriousness in vocational discernment. It is not a matter of walking in the wind, but a deep adherence to what we think and dream to be our vocation. It is only with this attitude of surrender that it is possible to respond with truth to the Love that calls. The greatness of the Love that calls us is far greater than the greatness we always ascribe to the selfish ego that often cows our decisions, seeking the easy way, rather than daring to walk the “right path.”
St. Daniel Comboni
Love is not selfish (1Cor 13), although this does not mean that it has to be “superhuman.” St. Daniel Comboni himself is aware of and fears the difficulties of his missionary vocation. In fact, he says at the time of departure: “I had been yearning for this moment for a very long time and with more passion than two ardent lovers longing for the moment of their wedding. But two serious difficulties frighten me...” (Saint Daniel Comboni, Writings, 3)
However, his fears do not lead him to give up. On the contrary, they lead him to follow a path of accompanied discernment that helps him both to confirm his vocation and overcome fears by trusting God (which always provides solutions to our difficulties). Once on the path of discernment, Comboni, in full self-surrender to Love, was able to say at the end of this stage: “I have at last finished the spiritual exercises; and after seeking the advice of God and of men, I saw that the idea of the Missions is my true vocation: indeed the successor of the great Servant of God Fr Bertoni [...] assures me that my vocation for the African Missions is one of the most clear and obvious [...]. Therefore, I have absolutely decided to leave.”(Saint Daniel Comboni, Writings, 13).
St. Daniel Comboni’s difficulties did not change during his time of discernment, but his heart quietened and his faith increased when his vocation was confirmed. This was not a dream of his, but a dream of God. Like him, we can ask: what fear can exist in a process of discernment? What fear can subsist when we see our vocation confirmed? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8,31).
Because we say yes to Love, we are able to surrender and give ourselves for and with Love. Here, treading the path of vocation places us in a condition that goes beyond ourselves, in a condition to be able to Love, not only those we choose, but those whom God chooses and places in our path (even if this is not always easy).
Love is always a gift to offer. It is a gift that you cannot keep for yourself! This is the intrinsic truth of Love and the fruitful foundation of all vocation. Contrary to the laws of mathematics, in vocation the gift of Love results in a greater Love. The more Love one gives, the more Love one experiences. The more steps we tread in the vocational pathway, the greater the burdens and difficulties, and, without doubt, the greater will be Love, Hope and True Happiness.