As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mt. 4:18-20)
One afternoon while I was in seminary I was having lunch with a some classmates, and we were joined by another seminarian who was a member of a religious community. He was younger than my classmates, and pretty “gung ho” about being a seminarian. With eager eyes and enthusiasm, he turned to my classmate, Mike Woods, and asked “So when did you get your call??!!” Now, you’d have to know Mike, but suffice it to say that Mike was about 10 years older than the other seminarian. He’s from Pittsburgh, and he had been a professional tri-athlete before entering seminary. Mike just looked over at him and said: “Well, I hope I get my call every day.”
People experience a call to follow Jesus in many different ways. For Peter and Andrew, it was the Incarnate Lord walking along the Sea of Galilee. For St. Paul, it was a burst of light that knocked him down and blinded him. For some people it is a moment when we experience a profound religious awakening. Some have a constant nagging feeling. And others are reinforced by a slow, steady constant understanding of the presence of God working in their lives. However it happens, it’s Jesus doing the calling. He might send the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds, but He is the mediator of God and mankind. He’s the one who calls to us: “Follow me!”
My “call” to the seminary wasn’t a dramatic one, although it did involve some dramtic events. But once I finally made the decision to enter, Jesus opened the floodgates to our conversation. I became much more attentive to His work in my life; I devoted a substantial amount of time trying to listen to Him in private prayer; and I even began to have conversations with Him – recognizing that He was always right!
Although I would bet most of us have had some sort of “vocation” moment concerning the Lord, we should always recall to where that presence is directed: to the Universal Call to Holiness. As the Catechism says: “The Christian faithful are those who have been incorporated in Christ through Baptism and have been constituted as the people of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each one. … In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and the activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with each one’s own condition and function.” Holiness is how we respond to our call.
Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty