Where Are The Vocations?
Vocations are on the decline. We are losing the fundamental resource which allows us to serve, to educate and to be on the margins. Where are the vocations? What can we as Jesuits and Catholics do to promote Jesuit vocations in our diocese and in our parishes?
Big questions. Here is a possible answer.
In Mark 10:17-31, a rich young man approaches Jesus. His heart is earnest, he longs to achieve perfection. He asks Jesus, what must I do to inherit eternal life. Jesus looks on the young man with compassion, and says. Go and sell all that you have to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.
The young man, feeling the weight of the sacrifice, perhaps feeling the emptiness that would come when he truly lived on the fringes, left sad – for he had many possessions.
We are pilgrims as Jesuits. Pope Benedict points out in his work Behold the Pierced One the essential nature of the pilgrim. He writes,
“We are a wandering people, even now that we have a dwelling place; as human beings, we are never finally at home; ultimately nothing belongs to us, we are always on the move. And for that very reason, everything we have we share, and we belong to one another.” (107).
This I think ought to be the essential nature of the one who follows Christ authentically. His material possessions become like weights that draw him down. These “riches” stop him from moving freely from place to place, province to province.
What’s more, his possessions, though perhaps hard won, ultimately separate him from genuine community. For how can you be genuinely in communion with the poor, if your lifestyle in no way resembles them?
But here is where vocations come in. It is the pilgrim who encounters God in the radicaliity of his choice. In the moment by moment fear of the unknown, he is forced to rely completely on Christ for his every need. What’s more God provides and provides abundantly. This is what fosters vocations.
When a young person sees the authentically lived out commitment of the Christian who lives his vocation without compromise. That is, when a Christian, be they lay or religious, lives out the Christian life in all its sacrifices, with its all its unknowns, and in all its victories, it is here that vocations are born.
When we are pilgrims God will provide the vocations. This is because God is faithful and abides by his promises.