Pope Francis is urging Catholics to pray that the Lord may help us discover His plan of love for our lives and grant us the courage to walk in the path He has chosen for each of us. He made the call in his message for this year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations that will be observed on the fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, 12th May. The Vatican on Saturday released the message that has as its theme, “The Courage to take a risk for God’s Promise”. The message is a reflection on “how the Lord’s call makes us bearers of a promise and, at the same time, asks of us the courage to take a risk, with him and for him”.
Just as Simon, Andrew, James and John had a mixed fortune in their catch of fish, the Pope said, “much of life is like that”. Sometimes we enjoy a good catch, sometimes we need the courage to keep our boat from being tossed by the waves and at times we are frustrated with empty nets. It is at this moment that Jesus approaches the fishermen, breaks through the “paralysis of routine” and promises to make them fishers of men.
We too were surprised by the promise of a joy that is capable of bringing fulfilment to our lives, when we met the person to marry or when we first felt the attraction for consecrated life. Rather than an intrusion in our freedom, a “cage” or a burden, the Pope said, the Lord’s call is a loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking. He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch.
However, embracing the Lord’s promise, the Pope said, demands the courage to risk making a decision, of putting ourselves on the line and facing a great challenge. Leaving behind the security of our little boat that prevents us from making a definitive choice, he said, we are called to be bold and decisive in seeking God’s plan for our lives, trusting in the Lord’s promise. This, the Pope said, is part of the call to Christian life that we all have received in baptism. It is born and develops through the liturgy, God’s grace, the sacraments, God’s word, prayer and fraternal
The Christian life thus finds expression in our decisions that give a precise direction to our personal journey and also contributes to the growth of God’s kingdom in our world. These vocations make us bearers of a promise of goodness, love and justice, not only for ourselves but also for our societies and cultures, which need courageous Christians and authentic witnesses of the kingdom of God.
Speaking about the call to consecrated life and priesthood, the Pope said it can excite as well as frighten us. Our decision to risk leaving behind everything to follow the Lord can meet much resistance in today’s highly secularized contexts. The Holy Father thus urged young people not to be deaf to the Lord’s call, saying there can be no greater joy than to risk one’s life for the Lord.
The Pope acknowledged it is not always easy to discern our vocation and to steer our life in the right direction. Hence the whole Church – priests, religious, pastoral workers and educators – needs to provide young people with opportunities for listening and discernment. Youth ministry and promotion of vocations along with prayer, meditation on God’s Word, Eucharistic adoration and spiritual accompaniment, the Pope said, help in discovering God’s plan.