Vocational Humility Vocational Humility

Maybe it’s because I am away for a few days and have a chance to pull back and ponder. Or maybe it’s because my birthday is eight days away and I realize the candle burns a little shorter.

But whatever the cause, insight comes, and the insight is this: In my lifetime certain works have been entrusted to me to perform, and certain words entrusted to me to speak. I will not be able to leave this world—at least not in a happy state—if the deeds have not been done and the words have not been spoken. That’s the downside.

But the upside, vocationally, is far more compelling. I know with absolute certainty that my burden of dreams and desires to be useful in the reign of God will be eased by the actual doing of deeds and the living of this life which has been entrusted to me. I also know with absolute certainty that all of the words entrusted to me to speak and to write will be spoken and written. All of them. Very particular deeds, particular words, each perfectly suited to my time and place, and to my mission and destiny.

My assurance in these things comes not from self-confidence but from Sacred Scripture. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: “The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword” (4:12).

Even earlier, in the Book of Isaiah the prophet says: “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down, … so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth” (55:10-12).

I write these thoughts not because these assurances about my life are unique, but because they apply to every baptized man and woman, young adult and youth. Our lives, called forth from clay, become animated in the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and we are sent forth. We carry within our breath and bones and blood the urgency and authority of God’s desiring. And God’s desiring, ultimately, is unimaginably effective. We are assured of this. Each of us carries within us the seeds of extraordinary spiritual fruitfulness.

This urgency and authority of God’s desiring, here at the human level, is what we call “vocation.” It is God’s calling, God’s inviting, God’s yearning for us—each of us and all of us together—to wake up from whatever stupor has cast its spell over us, and to courageously begin to participate in our own lives with a new sense of purpose.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador experienced a vocational awakening, shifting from a quiet ministry as country priest to being thrust by conscience to the forefront as God’s witness for justice and compassion. He discovered that he had certain deeds to do, and certain words to speak, which were too big for the timid notion he had cherished for his calling and his life. In his sermon which he preached on the day before his assassination he said to his people: “Beautiful is the moment in which we understand that we are no more than an instrument of God; we live only as long as God wants us to live; we can do only as much as God makes us able to do; we are only as intelligent as God would have us be.”

Beautiful is the moment of our vocational awakening. Beautiful is the humility which allows us to partner with God—yes, God—in the work of our lives for the good of the world we touch.

It takes great humility to admit our limitations. In our eyes they seem to be imperfections. But in truth our deeds and our words—those deeds and words entrusted to us—when fully and authentically delivered, reveal the immensity of God’s generosity and the exquisite perfection of God’s purpose. We are humbled to be called by God to carry out the work entrusted to us.

Copyright 2013 Mary Sharon Moore, M.T.S.