We are halfway down the road in our Lenten journey toward Easter.
This past Sunday we celebrated “Laetare Sunday” — the Sunday of joy and rejoicing! We are rejoicing, of course, because we see that the “end” is in sight. Because we are anticipating the joy of the Resurrection.
During these past few weeks, we have had some good priests pass away here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
And as I continue my Lenten reflections, I have been praying for these good men, thinking about their lives. And I find I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of our Christian vocation.
In my prayers, I keep returning to these words of Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant! … Enter into the joy of your Master!”
What more could we possibly be living for, if not the hope of one day meeting our Lord and hearing him speak these words to us?
We are born in time. But we are made to live for eternity.
I have been ordained a priest now for almost 40 years. I thank God every day for this beautiful vocation to be his priest.
And I am also grateful every day for the priests, deacons, seminarians and religious who have dedicated their lives to serve God and the people of God here in the archdiocese.
In fact, this past Sunday, I celebrated Mass for men and women in religious formation. The day before I had the privilege to celebrate a baptism.
I could not help thinking that in those two moments — we see the whole beautiful sweep of the Christian life. The Christian vocation, of course, is not limited to those who are ordained or consecrated.
Vocation simply means “calling.” And God calls every soul. Beginning in baptism, God speaks to us in the depths of our souls: “I have called you by name, you are mine.”
As we grow in our faith and in our relationship with him in prayer, we discover more and more his divine plan, the beautiful mission that God has for our lives.
That is one of the reasons for my new pastoral letter, “For Greater Things You Were Born” — to share this beautiful truth of our Christian vocation.
There are many paths, many callings — as many paths as there are Christians. Your particular vocation, what God is calling you to do, no one else is called to do.
But married or single, ordained or consecrated, God calls all of us. And he invites all of us to answer him with our whole heart, our whole life. To say, as the prophets did: “Here I am, Lord, for you called me.”
Last week I was in Washington, D.C., for meetings that are part of my duties as the vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
While I was there, I had the chance to give an address at the Catholic University of America (CUA). I was at dinner with some students beforehand, and we had a good conversation about our relationship with Jesus, and how our encounter with him changes and shapes the direction of our lives.
Jesus is the beginning and the meaning of every vocation. Jesus comes into our lives and there is nothing more beautiful than to know Jesus and find in him the meaning and destiny of our lives — the way we are made to live and who we are made to be.
Those CUA students told me it is important for them to find fellowship in small faith communities.
It is true, our faith grows in friendships. There are no “lone Christians.” We hear the call of Jesus and follow him in the company of others and we are joined to a new family, the family of God, the Church.
I was thinking about that recently as we were celebrating our annual Christian Service Awards Mass. These young men and women we honor each year are a shining example of what it means to follow Jesus.
And we need to encourage and support our young people. We need to find ways — in our homes, in our parishes, in our schools — to help them grow in their love for Jesus and their commitment to serve the Church and society.
Last week, we celebrated the Annunciation — the Blessed Virgin Mary’s great “yes” to God’s calling and plan for her life.
I always find it beautiful that six days before the Annunciation, the Church celebrates the solemnity of St. Joseph, and his vocation to be her spouse and the guardian of the Holy Family and the Church.
Reflecting on their vocation, their witness, we are reminded that our lives find their true meaning in answering the call of God and walking with Jesus Christ in this world.
So let us continue walking with Jesus on the path to Easter. Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.
And let us ask Mary and Joseph to intercede for us — to help us renew our joy and strengthen our commitment to our Christian vocation.
Editor’s note: To receive a free copy of Archbishop Gomez’s new pastoral letter, “For Greater Things You Were Born,” visit http://angelusnews.com/planoflove.