Bishop of Hallam
To be read at all Masses on the weekend of
Vocations Sunday – 8/9 May 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ
I am grateful for this opportunity to communicate with you on this 59th World Day of Prayer for Vocations and to encourage you in this prayer.
I had intended to write something completely different, but the Holy Father has written a beautiful message to mark this occasion, reflecting on some aspects of our common vocation and the individual call to the priesthood and religious life, that I would like to share with you today.
He reminds us that, first of all, we all share a common vocation of being protagonists of the Church’s Mission, “… to evangelise, to go forth and to sow the seeds of the Gospel in history … All the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or the level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelisation”.
Another aspect of our common vocation that he speaks of isthat we are the guardians of one another and creation, not just as individuals but as peoples and communities. He reminds us that before ever we encounter Christ, we receive the gift of life, and we each have a unique and special place in the mind of God as creatures willed and loved by him. So, he writes,
“We are called to be guardians of one another, to strengthen the bonds of harmony and sharing and to heal the wounds of creation, lest its beauty be destroyed”.
When I read the Holy Father’s message, I was particularly moved by his reflection on the relation between vocation and the ‘gaze of God’.
Within the common vocation, which we all share, God addresses a particular call to each of us. It is what he calls being met by the gaze of God. God’s gaze, of course, met us in a new and unique way in Jesus.
Reflecting on the story of the rich young man in the Gospel …”Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him”, Pope Francis says that this gaze, full of love, rests on us! And herecognises who we truly are and can become. So, for example in the young woman of Nazareth, he saw the Mother of God. In Simon the fisherman he saw Peter, the rock on which he would build his Church. In the publican Levi he recognised the apostle and evangelist Matthew, and in Saul, a harsh persecutor of Christians, he saw Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. God’s loving gaze always meets us, touches us, sets us free and transforms us, making us into new persons.
The invitation and challenge for us is to respond to that loving gaze that always meets us, touches us, sets us free and transforms us into new persons. Pope Francis asks us to allow ourselves to be moved by that gaze and so become ever more who we are. So he writes.
“In the vocation to the consecrated life, to be the praise of God and the prophecy of a new humanity. In the vocation to marriage, to be mutual gift and givers and teachers of life. In every ecclesial vocation and ministry that calls us to see others and the world through God’s eyes, to serve goodness and to spread love with our works and words.”
As we gather each year and join in the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Vocations, I am conscious that there may well be someone listening who may feel God’s gaze on them, calling them to the Priesthood or Religious Life. I invite you to meet with me at Bishop’s House, 75 Norfolk Road, Sheffield S2 2SZ, next Saturday morning at 11.00 am. No strings attached!
We ask the Prayers of Mary, our Mother of Perpetual Help and Patron of our Diocese, to help us all to discern God’s plan as it unfolds day by day and the courage to walk in the path that he has chosen for us.