VOCATIONS SUNDAY MESSAGE OF POPE FRANCIS
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Fourth Sunday of Easter offers us the figure of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep: he calls them, he feeds them and he guides them. For over fifty years the universal Church has celebrated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In this way the church reminds us of our need to pray, as Jesus himself told his disciples, so that “the Lord of the harvest may send out laborers into his harvest” (Lk. 10:2).
Jesus command came in the context of his sending out missionaries. He called not only the twelve Apostles, but also another seventy-two disciples, two by two, for the mission (cf. Lk 10:1-6). Since the Church “is missionary by nature” (Ad Gentes, 2), the Christian vocation is necessarily born of the experience of mission. Hearing and following the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd, means letting ourselves be attracted and guided by him, in consecration to him; it means allowing the Holy Spirit to draw us into this missionary dynamism, awakening within us the desire, the joy and the courage to offer our own lives in the service of the Kingdom of God.
To offer one’s life in mission is possible only if we are able to leave ourselves behind. Pope Francis articulated that the Book of Exodus is the book, which contains the true history and vocation of the people of Israel passing through the dramatic period of slavery in Egypt, the calling of Moses, the experience of liberation and the journey toward the Promised Land. Such story is parallel to our modern period when we pass from the slavery of the old Adam to new life in Christ, which give us redemption through faith (Eph. 4:22-24). This Passover is a genuine “exodus”; it is the journey of each Christian soul and the entire Church, the decisive turning of our lives towards the Father.
At the root of every Christian vocation we find this basic movement, which is part of the experience of faith. Belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort zones and the inflexibility of our ego in order to center our life in Jesus Christ. It means leaving, like Abraham, our native place and going forward with trust, knowing that God will show us the way to a new land. This “going forward” is not to be viewed as a sign of contempt for one’s life, one’s feelings, and one’s own humanity. On the contrary, those who set out to follow Christ find life in abundance by putting themselves completely at the service of God and his kingdom. Jesus says: “Everyone who has left home or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Mt 19:29).
From the call of Abraham to that of Moses, from Israel’s pilgrim journey through the desert to the conversion preached by the prophets, up to the missionary journey of Jesus, which culminates in his death and resurrection, vocation is always a work of God. He leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters. Responding to God’s call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness.
For More detail of the letter, you may take a printed copy on the side table of the entrance door.