This is a beautiful time of year.
It is Confirmation season and I have the joy to be celebrating this sacrament with young people in parishes throughout the archdiocese.
In my monthly television and radio show, “Dialogo de Fe,” I had the opportunity to speak with three religious sisters about their lives and their vocations.
One of them, Sister Micaela Ramirez, of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart, said that growing up in Huntington Beach, she had plans to be a wife and a mother of a big family and to teach biology and maybe write songs and ride a motorcycle.
Her parents, she said, were a beautiful witness to her of the Gospel. On a retreat, she said, she had a profound experience of God’s love for her and she heard the call of Jesus in her heart, saying, “I want you to belong completely to me.”
It is a beautiful testimony, and I have been thinking a lot about how our lives are a response to the call of God.
This is true for everyone — whether we are aware of it or not.
This is one of the mysteries of creation. God wants us to be here. We would not exist if God did not call us into existence.
In the beginning, God called all of creation into being: “Let there be …”
And he calls each of us by name. The words he spoke through the prophet Isaiah, he speaks to each of us: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.”
So, every life is a calling, a vocation. Your life and my life are a response to the calling of God that we hear.
This Sunday, April 22, the fourth Sunday of Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday because in the Gospel reading for this Sunday we reflect on Jesus’ description of himself and his mission.
He says: “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. … I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice.”
For the past 55 years, the Church has used this Sunday to pray that more will hear his voice and follow him in becoming priests, deacons and religious and consecrated men and women.
As we join the universal Church in this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I am also praying for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the topic of “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
Jesus calls to every heart. The challenge is to be able to hear this call. The world can be a noisy place and our lives are filled with responsibilities and anxieties that can keep us from hearing his voice.
The call of Jesus is a call to follow him and to understand our lives in the light of his life. The document that the world’s bishops are using to prepare for the upcoming synod, speaks of our “vocational call” as part of “God’s plan of profound love for each person.”
What that means is that God invites each of us to respond to his call in our own unique way.
Your life belongs to Jesus and so does mine. But because our lives are different, the way we are called to follow Christ will be different, too.
There are many paths, many callings. But the call of Jesus is always a call to share in his mission. He is sending all of us out into the world. Most of us, he sends to serve him in the worlds of work and family, the worlds of culture and civic duty.
But some are chosen by Jesus for a special calling, to follow him in one of the many forms of religious and consecrated life in the Church.
Pope Francis says in his message for this year’s day of prayer, “Our life and our presence in this world are the fruit of a divine vocation!”
So, we have to listen for the voice of Christ and we have to respond to his call with all our hearts and all our strength.
And each one of us in the Church has a responsibility to “create the space” where our young people can listen for Christ’s voice, too.
This is one of the most important missions in the Church right now. Already, we have many fine young men in our seminary and many more discerning a vocation to the priesthood.
Together, we need to build a culture of vocations!
So, pray for me this week and I will be praying for you. And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to build a culture of vocations — so that many more young men and women can feel the love of God and answer his call in their lives.