VATICAN CITY — In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis urged youth to listen to the call of God, stating that this is often faced with obstacles and requires “going against the tide.”
“We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for small things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals!” the Holy Father remarked in his Jan. 17 message to youth.
The 51st World Day of Prayer for Vocations is slated to occur on May 11, 2014, which is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, and it will be dedicated to the theme "Vocations, Witness to the Truth."
Beginning his address with the image in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus states, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” the Pope highlighted that what Jesus is asking of the Church “concerns the need to increase the number of those who serve his Kingdom.”
Reciting St. Paul’s words in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis observed that we Christians “are God’s field,” which “is why wonder first arises in our hearts over the plentiful harvest which God alone can bestow.”
Emphasizing how we are “possessed” by God through his “steadfast love,” he explained that everything we have “comes from him and is his gift: the world, life, death, the present, the future.”
“Christ, therefore … continually summons us by his word to place our trust in him, loving him ‘with all the heart, with all the understanding and with all the strength,’” he said, quoting the Gospel of Matthew.
“Therefore, every vocation, even within the variety of paths, always requires an exodus from oneself in order to center one’s life on Christ and on his Gospel.”
“Both in married life and in the forms of religious consecration, as well as in priestly life, we must surmount the ways of thinking and acting that do not conform to the will of God,” explained the Pope, adding that “it is an exodus that leads us on a journey of adoration of the Lord and of service to him in our brothers and sisters.”
“He never abandons us,” the Pope noted. “He has the fulfillment of his plan for us at heart, and yet he wishes to achieve it with our consent and cooperation.”
Pope Francis then highlighted how, even today, Jesus is among us, seeking to draw close to everyone, “beginning with the least,” and to heal our wounds.
He then extended an invitation to all youth “to listen to and follow Jesus and to allow yourselves to be transformed interiorly by his words, which ‘are spirit and life.’”
Echoing the words of Mary to the servants of the wedding feast in Cana, “Do whatever he tells you,” the Pope explained that this attitude “will help you to participate in a communal journey” that is able to bring out the best in those around us.
“A vocation,” he explained, “is a fruit that ripens in a well-cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service, in the context of an authentic ecclesial life.”
“No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love.”
This “high standard” of living as a Christian “means sometimes going against the tide and also encountering obstacles, outside ourselves and within ourselves,” noted the Pope, adding that Jesus warns us in the Gospel that “the good seed of God’s word is often snatched away by the Evil One, blocked by tribulation and choked by worldly cares and temptation.”
“All of these difficulties could discourage us, making us fall back on seemingly more comfortable paths,” noted the Pope; however, “the true joy of those who are called consists in believing and experiencing that he, the Lord, is faithful.”
Only with him can we “walk, be disciples and witnesses of God’s love, open our hearts to great ideals, to great things,” the Pope observed, highlighting that “we Christians were not chosen by the Lord for small things.”
He then implored the “bishops, priests, religious, Christian communities and families” to “orient vocational pastoral planning in this direction” and to accompany youths “on pathways of holiness.”
Concluding his message, he asked that all “dispose ourselves” to having “good soil” in our hearts, “by listening, receiving and living out the word, and thus bearing fruit.”
“The more we unite ourselves to Jesus through prayer, sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the sacraments, celebrated and lived in the Church and in fraternity,” he observed, “the more there will grow in us the joy of cooperating with God in the service of the Kingdom of mercy and truth, of justice and peace.
“And the harvest will be plentiful, proportionate to the grace we have meekly welcomed into our lives. With this wish, and asking you to pray for me, I cordially impart to you all my apostolic blessing.”