Often, when we speak of vocation, we are stuck with an illusory image that brings us back either to a fantastic and distant dream or to an idea of a “voice from the beyond” that calls us to follow a certain path.
In a desperate struggle to get out of this misunderstanding that leads us nowhere, we look at everything that marks the rhythm of our Christian life. But then … it’s always the same!
The mass begins and goes on in the same way until the end. The sacraments always follow the same rite. The pope always seems to say the same thing. The Bible does not bring anything new–we already know the history by heart! Nothing seems to help us. What should we do?
Countless voices shout to announce that Christ is alive, but the truth is that we do not see Him, we do not hear Him whispering to us. Jesus died and rose, but we do not see how “He is alive” nor how that has contributed to our happiness.
Do Not Despair
Do not despair! If we look at our Christian life in this way, it means that we are sick. It means that we are going blind. In fact, it is the same as saying that all our days are the same: we get up, breathe, eat, and go back to bed. Am I being simplistic in this view? Of course I am! But the same happens when our Christian life is reduced to ritualism, from ready-made sentences to the yearning for a materiality capable of “being God.”
When we enter adolescence, at least the girls, we dream of a “charming prince” who rides on a white horse and comes to meet us and makes us happy forever. This is a vision taken from fairy tales that are told through stories and sometimes through television cartoons. However, we know that this view is fictitious, illusory and unrealistic. We really want happiness, but we know that “the charming prince” will always be someone with character, who respects us, who loves us– someone real!
The Christian life, and particularly the person of Jesus Christ, must also be real in our lives. It is only in this way that our lives will be open to the newness of the Scriptures, the rites of the sacraments and the way that the Church today speaks of the incarnation of Christ in the here and now of our times.
What originality does this bring us? The joy of the certainty that “He who fills us with His grace, He who frees us, He who transforms us, He who heals and consoles us is someone who lives” (Pope Francis, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christ is Alive, n. 124), someone whose life is manifested in our own existence, far beyond what our physical eyes can see.
I Screwed Up … What Now?
The urge to see, hear and be sure about everything reduces our life to emptiness since we cannot do anything outside our biology. Let us think of Love (love for parents, siblings, friends, etc.). It is something essential for us; it is part of our existence; it is absolutely real but … we don’t see it!
We are only able to feel it, to see its manifestations and to express it. To affirm that Christ is alive is exactly the same: we do not see Him, but if we claim to be Christians, nothing is more real, essential and true in our lives–nothing is more sublime in our existence!
However, if it is like that, why do we feel alone so often? Why do we feel so adrift? Why do we end up doing everything that is contrary to the faith we profess? It is difficult to “be human”! As St. Paul said, it seems that we only do the evil that we do not want and we do not do the good that we want (Romans 7, 19).
Without realizing it, we weave a web around us and we are trapped in it. After that, what to do? How do we return to God? How can we go back to what we really are and what we want to be? After so much nonsense, how can we dare to look at the vocation that we think is for us so as to not feel unworthy of such a gift?
We must follow the same path as St. Paul: despite sin, the denial of God, and so many betrayals, in Christ there is no condemnation! As Pope Francis tells us, “never forget that He forgives seventy times seven. He comes back again and again and carries us on His shoulders. No one can take away from us the dignity that this infinite and unshakable love gives us. He allows us to raise our heads and start again, with a tenderness that never defrauds us.”(Pope Francis, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christ is Alive, n. 119).
Love has the last word, never our mistakes and our deviations from the path. Our life is not linear; rather, it is dynamic and deeply human. It is in this human character that the vocation is discerned and lived and where the living Christ manifests Himself in our life.
Sometimes we can only see darkness and, over time, we can no longer even see the light. If we spend a lot of time in the dark, then we can’t even open our eyes when there is light. When we follow our biological urges we feel like we are only stuck in the dark.
The moments of struggle and vocational discovery involve doubts, uncertainties and fears. However, the biggest challenge is not to answer doubts, to make certain uncertainty or to overcome fears. Rather, it is letting ourselves be guided by this trail of Light that remains alive– a trail of Light that manifests itself through those who are able to accompany us on this path of discernment.
We often assume that darkness “is our only way out.” We resigned ourselves to it and are unable to fight and look at the life we live from a divine perspective–the only one capable of dispelling darkness and opening the doors to the life we dream of living.
We find in our lives Christ’s footprints. He walks beside us and keeps us in the Light to persevere on the path. He wants us to be truly happy and fulfilled! He struggles with us so that we may live a life in fullness (John 10, 10).
Christ Wants You Alive!
Gone are the days when thinking about a vocation was synonymous with “denying oneself” and “putting on Christ.” The vocation, because it comes from God and is from God, does not alienate us from our humanity and from the world in which we live.
Rather, vocation is a concrete sign that the living Christ wants us alive! Without a full realization of what we are, we live like zombies: apathetic before reality, driven by a “dead existence” in which nothing makes sense … we live without living and deny the life of Christ – a life capable of overcoming death itself and make us triumph whatever happens.
In fact, “because He lives, there can be no doubt that goodness will have the upper hand in your life and that all our struggles will prove worthwhile. If this is the case, we can stop complaining and look to the future, for with Him this is always possible.”(Pope Francis, Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christ is Alive, n. 127).