| The Mystery | Useless Servants | Belonging to God | Bearing Fruit | The Response | Some Scenes from Scripture |


The Mystery

"Many times, you ask me why I became a priest.  It is not possible to explain the whole thing.  For me it continues to be a mystery. How can I explain God's ways?  And yet, I know that at a certain moment in my life, I was sure that Christ was telling me what he told thousands of persons before me: 'Come and follow me.'  I clearly realized that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nothing of my own conception.  Christ was calling me to serve him as a priest." (John Paul II, Discourse in Los Angeles, 16 Sep 87)

"Then he went up on to the mountainside, and called to him those whom it pleased him to call; so these came to him ..." (Mk 3:14) [Et ascendit in montem et vocat ad se, quos voluit ipse, et venerunt ad eum...]

"The story of my priestly vocation?  It is known above all to God."  (John Paul II, Gift and Mystery, p 3)

"Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.'
"Then I said, 'A, a, a, Lord God!  Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.'
"But the Lord said to me, 'Do not say, I am only a youth; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak.  Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,' says the Lord."  (Jer 1:4-8)

"He looked for the soul that would dare set aside its own existence, and to put on Him, and to lose itself in Him..." (Alban Goodier, The Public Life of Jesus Christ, vol I, p 357)

"Before I was born, the Lord sent me his summons, kept me in mind already, when I lay in my mother's womb. ... You are my servant, he whispers." (Is 49:1b, 3) [Dominus ab utero vocavit me, de ventri matris meae recordatus est nominis mei...]

"And then, he who had set me apart from the day of my birth, and called me by his grace, saw fit to make his Son known to me, so that I could preach his gospel among the Gentiles.  My first thought was not to hold any consultations with any human creature." (Gal 1:15-16) [Cum autem placuit Deo, qui me segregavit de utero matris meae et vocavit per gratiam suam, ut revelaret Filium suum in me, ut evangelizarem illum in gentibus, continue non contuli cum carne et sanguine.]

"Parents have to be honored, but God has to be obeyed.  We have to love those who engendered us, but we have to give the first place to him who created us."  (St Augustine, Sermo 100)

"The first commandment is first, and the fourth is fourth."  (Alvaro del Portillo)

"Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures."  (James 1:17-18)

"I have left for myself 7,000 men, who have not bowed their knees to Baal.  Even so, then, at the present time there is a remnant left, selected out of grace.  And if out of grace, then not in virtue of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace."  (Rom 11:5-6)

"Why did God create us?  Why did he call us?  We cannot explain completely -- because God is an artist."  (Javier de Pedro)

Was it Saul who chose?  Peter who volunteered?  James, perhaps?

"If you knew the gift of God..." (Jn 4:10) [Si scires donum Dei...]

Useless Servants

"At that time Jesus declared, 'I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was thy gracious will." (Mt 12:25)

"For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." (I Cor 1:26-29) [Videte enim vocationem vestram, fratres, quia non multi sapientes secundum carnem, non multi potentes, non multi nobiles; sed, quae stulta sunt mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat sapientes, et infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat fortia, et ignobilia mundi et contemptibilia elegit Deus, quae non sunt, ut ea, quae sunt, destrueret, ut non glorietur omnis caro in conspectu Dei.]

"I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, 'Go prophesy to my people Israel.'" (Amos 7:14-15)

(After the miraculous catch of fish)  "Simon knew himself, only too well; spontaneous, generous, eager, devoted, with a strong man's power to admire and love, and a strong man's power to command and win allegiance; indeed, he knew this well enough.  But there were other things: his impetuousity and lack of thought, his foolish extravagance in word and deed, making him say that which a moment's reflexion would never have permitted, making him do things of which he was everlastingly ashamed, always sanguine, always making others sanguine, but always failing everybody, always in the end disappointing everybody, and himself most of all.  He could be so brave yet at unexpected moments what a coward he could be!  How could he ever trust himself?  How could he allow anyone else to trust him?  Above all this splendid, glorious, confiding, loving and lovable Jesus of Nazareth!
   "'Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'...
   [Jesus] looked down on Simon and was satisfied.  As with a certain Maid at Nazareth, great things had been done to him, and it had only made him realize the more his own unfitness.  He had discovered himself and owned it; the rest was assured.  True, he would yet make blunders, he would have many falls; with all his generosity, and desire to do great things, Simon would still be Simon.  But Jesus would endure all that; he would wait for him in patience till he learnt; patient waiting was a marked feature in him; he knew that in the end Simon would not fail him." (Alban Goodier, The Public Life of Our Lord, vol I, pp 165-166)

"I can tell you about my path, but I'm only a little wire--God is the Power."  (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

"Has he not saved us, and called us to a vocation of holiness?  It was not because of anything we had done; we owe it to his own design, to the grace lavished on us, long ages ago, in Christ Jesus." (II Tim 1:9) [Deus nos liberavit et vocavit vocatione sua sancta, non secundum opera nostra sed secundum propositum suum et gratiam, quae data est nobis in Christo Iesu ante tempora saecularia.]

"For we ourselves also were once unwise, unbelieving, going astray, slaves to various  lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, then not by reason of good works that we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the bath of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit; whom he has abundantly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, in order that, justified by his grace, we may be heirs in the hope of life everlasting."  (Tit 3:3-7)

Belonging to God

"None of us lives as his own master, and none of us dies as his own master.  While we live, we live as the Lord's servants; when we die, we die as the Lord's servants; in life and death, we belong to the Lord."  (Rom 14:8)

(On the call of the Apostles) "Though they knew their own weakness, and limitations, and inexperience, and need of support, and chances of failure, still they would be brave, and according to their powers would be worthy of his trust.  For the trust implied love.  They were not hired servants, they were not merely officials.  They were friends, chosen friends of Jesus Christ, and they had already learnt that the gift of this friendship was reward enough for anything.  That day when they were appointed was indeed a happy day, an enthusiastic day, a day in which it was good to be alive; it contained a joy, the uplifting joy of self-surrender which has its equal in no other joy in the world." (Alban Goodier, The Public Life of Jesus Christ, vol I, p 357)

"Be convinced, my child, that God has a right to ask us: Are you thinking about me?  Are you aware of me?  Do you look to me as your support?  Do you seek me as the light of your life, as your shield, as your all?"  (Bl Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, 506)

"You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."  (II Pt 2:9)

"The Lord has told you: meus es tu, you are mine.  To think that God, who is all beauty and all wisdom, all splendor and all goodness, should say to you that you are his and then, after all this, you can't bring yourself to respond to him!" (Bl Josemaria Escriva, The Forge 123)

Bearing Fruit

 "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit in it..." (Lk 13:  )

"And he called to him the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts..." (Mk 6:7-10)

Nobody ever regrets having been generous with God, if he has truly been generous.

Omnium singularium gratiarum alicui rationali creaturae communicatarum generalis regula est, quod quandocumque divina gratia eligit aliquem ad aliquam gratiam singularem, seu ad aliquem sublimem statum, omnia charismata donat, quae illi personae sic electae et eius officio necessaria sunt atque illum copiose decorant. (St Bernard of Sienna referring to St Joseph.  Cf Liturgia horarum II, p 1296)

The Response

"A question, therefore, is directed to each one of you personally: Are you capable of giving yourself, your time, your energies, your talents, for the good of others?  Are you capable of love?  If you are, the Church and society can expect great things from each one of you." (John Paul II, Discourse at the World Youth Day, 14 Jan 95)

"My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready." (Ps 56:8)  [Paratum cor meum, Deus, paratum cor meum.]

"Would you but listen to his voice today!  Do not harden your hearts... Your fathers put me to the test, challenged me, as if they lacked proof of my power, for forty years together; from that generation I turned away in loathing; These, I said, are ever wayward hearts, these have never learned to obey me.  And I took an oath in anger, They shall never attain my rest."  (Ps 94(95):8-11)

"I invite each one of you now, personally, to address a trusting and sincere petition to God, like that blind man from Jericho who told Jesus: 'Lord, make me see!' (Lk 18:41).  Lord, may I see what your will is for me at every moment, and above all, may I see your design of love for my whole life, which is my vocation.  And give me the generosity to say Yes and to be faithful. (John Paul II, Discourse to the Youth, 11 Apr 87)

"And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." (II Cor 5:15)

(Question put to John Paul II) "What is the worst thing about being Pope?"
(Answer) "The most painful thing is to see that many persons do not welcome the love of Jesus: they don't know who he really is and how much he loves them.  Jesus does not oblige people to welcome his love.  It makes me happy to see so many persons who love him, who say 'Yes' to him.  But it pains me when some say 'No'."  (John Paul II, Discourse in Los Angeles, 16 Sep 87)

"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus..." (Acts 20:24; cf II Cor 4:7; Phil 1:19-26; Col 1:24)

"We spend whole years, and often a whole life, in bargaining whether we shall give ourselves wholy to God.  We cannot make up our minds to so complete a sacrifice.  We reserve to ourselves many affections, designs, desires, hopes, pretensions, of which we are unwilling to strip ourselves in order to put ourselves in that perfect nudity of spirit which disposes us to be fully possessed by God."  (Lallemant)

"If the Lord calls you with a special vocation of love in order to participate closely in his redemptive zeal and in his divine desires of spreading the joy of Easter all over the earth, answer him generously and promptly, knowing that he will fill you with an incomparable joy."  (John Paul II, Discourse to University Students, 1988)

"No one who looks behind him, when he has once put his hand to the plough, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Lk 9:62) [Nemo mittens manum suam in aratrum et aspiciens retro, aptus est regno Dei.]

 [Cave nequando obliviscaris pacti Domini Dei tui.]

"When one has no faith, he acts without any supernatural criteria; and if he lacks love, he will not think twice about betraying God."  (Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, Discourse, 1988)

Vocation is not a sideline,
self-surrender not a pastime,
apostolate not a hobby.

"Let only that little be left of me whereby I may name thee my all.
Let only that little be left of my will whereby I may feel thee on every side,
and come to thee in everything,
and offer to thee my love every moment.
Let only that little be left of me whereby I may never hide thee.
Let only that little of my fetters be left whereby I am bound with thy Will,
and thy purpose is carried out in my life--
and that is the fetter of thy love." (Rabindranath Tagore)

"In order to celebrate and thank his vocation, he gives a great banquet.  This passage of the Gospel reflects clearly that the vocation is a great good which one has to be happy about.  If we only look at the renunciation, at what we have to leave behind, and not at the gift of God, at the good that he will do in us and through us, we can get overwhelmed, just like the rich young man..." (Navarre Bible, commentary on Lk 18:18)

"Then, O my brethren, so greatly loved and longed for, all my delight and prize, stand firmly in the Lord, beloved, as I bid you." (Phil 4:1)

Some Scenes from Scripture

Levi, The Call of (Lk 5:27-32)
St Paul, The Conversion of (Acts 9:1-22; Acts 22:5-21; Acts 26:9-18)