Vocation and Discipleship

Last night was the final night of Archbishop Flynn’s visit to my parish and I was fortunate enough to be there for another fabulous talk by him.  His focus was on discipleship and vocation.  Again, there was way too much fruit for me to share in a single post, so I will just share a couple of thoughts prompted by his remarks.

One of the things that hit me powerfully was the statement that Jesus doesn’t call faceless crowds.  Rather, he calls each one of us individually.  When Philip brought Jesus to Nathaniel and Nathaniel asks Jesus how he knew him, Jesus responds, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  When I heard this, I had the same reaction I did when a priest once observed at Mass, “You know, Jesus didn’t just die for all of us; He died for each of us.”  I am amazed anew at the personal-ness of it all, and what I experienced here was a deepening of the realization that God calls each of us by name – invites each of us individually and desires a personal relationship with each of us.  And with that deepening understanding, comes the corresponding realization that it matters to God how each of us respond.

Arcibishop Flynn also talked about the fact that, although we are all given a unique set of gifts and talents, meaning that our particular vocation varies, we all share a common vocation: discipleship in Christ.  He emphasized that discipleship not a single action or series of actions, but a way of life – a way of life that makes Christ central.  Discipleship, he observed, entails a firm and conscious commitment of our life to Christ regardless of the cost…a commitment we are asked to make knowing that there will be a cost, knowing that part of love is denying oneself.  Discipleship thus entails a wIllingness to give all as Christ did.

Discipleship is demanding.  The Church, he emphasized is not a club.  There is nothing casual about this.  I listened to his stories about various people who paid great prices, including a priest killed in Guatamala some years ago for speaking out against the injustices being perpetrated against his flock.  And I can only pray that I can be as strong a disciple as some of those who have gone before us and been willing to give of themselves without counting the cost.