For a few weeks now I have been working through “Verbum Domini” (Pope Benedict’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the word of God and the Church). I have been reading this as I exercise on the stationary bike and the elliptical machine at the gym on campus. I am sure it is quite the sight for others in the gym!
The exhoration is very rich and is giving me much to mull over – some of which will make it into future blogs I am sure – but today a passage that caught my attention dealt with the word of God and Vocations. Below is the passage.
In stressing faith’s intrinsic summons to an ever deeper relationship with Christ, the word of God in our midst, the Synod also emphasized that this word calls each one of us personally, revealing that life itself is a vocation from God. In other words, the more we grow in our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, the more we realize that he is calling us to holiness in and through the definitive choices by which we respond to his love in our lives, taking up tasks and ministries which help to build up the Church. This is why the Synod frequently encouraged all Christians to grow in their relationship with the word of God, not only because of their Baptism, but also in accordance with their call to various states in life.
Here we touch upon one of the pivotal points in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which insisted that each member of the faithful is called to holiness according to his or her proper state in life. Our call to holiness is revealed in sacred Scripture: “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44; 19:2; 20:7). Saint Paul then points out its Christological basis: in Christ, the Father “has chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4). Paul’s greeting to his brothers and sisters in the community of Rome can be taken as addressed to each of us: “To all God’s beloved, who are called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!” (Rom 1:7).
The exhortation can be viewed as a summons for the whole Church to continuously encounter the word of God but this passage speaks specifically to the word of God, vocation and its discernment. In Scripture we encounter the living Lord and he speaks to our heart; so by growing “in relationship with the word of God” we necessarily grow in awareness of our vocation, our calling in life.
We can readily call to mind the witness of various saints throughout the ages whose vocation was made clear through the proclamation of and encounter with a scripture passage. I think of St. Anthony of the desert and St. Augustine; both of whose stories make a dramatic turn through an encounter with the word of God.
The Holy Father points out that the synod specifically stressed that the word of God, “calls each one of us personally“. God’s word is, indeed, alive and it does speak to the heart and when we approach God’s word authentically, respectfully, prayerfully and within the proper context of church then great insight and sure knowledge will be gained regarding God, faith and even our vocation.
To help discern a vocation – spend some time daily with Scripture. Let it speak to you and see where it leads.