Vocation is a blessing from God and this is seen when we change the way we look at ourselves and reality.
When we look around us, sometimes we feel impelled to curse everything or admire the beauty and goodness that still reign in the world in which we live. We often look at reality with “dark lenses” and we complain.
A river of complaints only makes us see the violence, pain, and suffering present in our times. However, when we look “with God’s eyes” we see that goodness and beauty still remains. Without realizing it, we went from eight to eighty in our assessments of the world and our gaze seems external to the reality of which we are a part of.
Let me share my own experience. Before going to Central Africa for a mission, I went to an ophthalmologist for a consultation. The lady who assisted me realized that I was going to Africa from my conversations with my mother, so she asked me, “I heard you are going to Africa … Why so?”
Without thinking about the answer, I replied, “I got tired of complaining that I wish there was a better and fairer world and I decided to do something!” The lady reacted with surprise and astonishment. From this incident we can glean that we are an integral part of the reality in which we live in, and it is not possible to go through an authentic and happy life without leaving our comfort zones. Yet, how do we take that first step?
First, we must always bear in mind that vocation and the world in which we live “can be conceived as a gift that comes from the open hands of the Father of all, as a reality illuminated by the love that calls us to universal communion.” (Laudato Si’, n. 76)
Second, we have to accept that in life, we cannot do everything on our own. Each person has his place, his importance, and his full accomplishment in the function to which he is called.
To take the first step on the path of vocation at the beginning of solid discernment, it is necessary to bless. As we make this effort, we are putting the lens of God’s goodness and love in our eyes and, consequently, we are expanding our ability to see. Our gaze will be able to see the manifestations of God without preventing us from seeing the suffering in which many live.
This transfiguration in the way of looking at reality will allow us to be able to see ourselves with more authenticity. It also allows us to uninstall ourselves from the “tower” of our selfish self.
When blessing, we are saying “no” to the fatalism that colours the way we look at, act, and interact with our reality. By blessing, we create horizons of goodness for the world of which we are a part of, opening doors to a happy future in which everyone can participate in some way.
Furthermore, by blessing, we can better see our own and others’ weaknesses. This proves to be extremely important when looking for someone to accompany us in vocational discernment: the companion can be a human being! He or she may have defects! He or she does not need to be “perfect.” He or she only needs to identify himself or herself with the vocation that we think is ours, accompany us, and help to discern our own paths.
Although accepting a blessing is easy, it does not always happen. If the blessing is already a difficult job, accepting the blessing can become even more challenging. For example, would it be easy for us to accept help from an enemy? Even if we do accept our enemy’s help, we would still be wary and sceptical.
Because acceptance is not an easy task, we must always be mindful when working our way to overcome our scepticism and suspicions. About vocation, accepting the blessing is never an easy task: either because we “carry a red card” in the process of discernment and we take this as an affront and not as a blessing to reach the path of vocation that fully fulfils us; because we are always compelled to act; or because, simply, we fear the changes that will have to be made in our lives.
Pope Francis already warns us that “any attempt to care for and improve the world requires profound changes in lifestyles.” (Laudato Si’, n. 5) Now, changing our lifestyle is never an easy task: it means moving away from our comfortable and safe spaces.
The question that arises here will be whether we can accept the blessing that comes from our vocation. This blessing is full of authenticity and fullness, but are we up to the gift offered?
Apathy and fear are unacceptable lifestyles for any Christian and unthinkable for anyone who truly wants to be happy! For this reason, today I propose that together we follow the path of blessing (the one we offer, and the one we accept), uniting our prayer with that of the psalmist, singing with the enthusiasm of those who feel blessed: “Bless me, oh my soul, the Lord, and all my being praise his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of its benefits. It is He who forgives your faults and heals all your illnesses. It is He who rescues your life from the grave and fills you with grace and tenderness.”(Psalm 103: 1-5). (Susana Vilas Boas)