Pope Francis: Vocations, an Exodus Experience to the Promised Land

Following a vocation to the priesthood or religious life is to live an experience of "exodus" -- to joyfully leave behind all that enslaves and journey to a Promised Land of love, service and mission, Pope Francis said.

"Responding to God's call, then, means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness," the pope said in his message for the 2015 World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The day will be celebrated April 26 at the Vatican and in many dioceses around the world.

Advertisement

The message, released at the Vatican April 14, was dedicated to the theme: "Exodus: A fundamental experience of vocation."

Every Christian vocation is rooted in this sense of movement, of journeying and going forward since "belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to center our life in Jesus Christ," the pope wrote.

Just like Abraham, Moses and the people of Israel, all children of God are called to leave behind the land they know and trust completely in God to show them the way to a whole new world.

The journey is not about running away in "contempt" from life and reality, but of finding it anew, in abundance and brought to its fulfillment, he wrote.

"The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, 'decentering' us and triggering 'an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self toward its liberation through self-giving, and thus toward authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God,'" he wrote, quoting retired Pope Benedict XVI.

A vocation, just like Christian life in general, demands constant renewal and "an attitude of conversion and transformation, an incessant moving forward, a passage from death to life like that celebrated in every liturgy, an experience of Passover," he said.

The journey is God's work as "he leads us beyond our initial situation, frees us from every enslavement, breaks down our habits and our indifference, and brings us to the joy of communion with him and with our brothers and sisters," Pope Francis wrote.

A vocation to priesthood or religious life doesn't just transform the individual, he wrote, it also has an impact on all of society as the individual feels compelled to serve God's kingdom on earth and inspired "to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest."

The pope's message called on young people to recognize that "this exodus toward God and others fills our lives with joy and meaning."

Uncertainty, fear or problems can too often "risk paralyzing their youthful enthusiasm and shattering their dreams, to the point where they can think that it is not worth the effort to get involved, that the God of the Christian faith is somehow a limit on their freedom," he wrote.

"Dear young friends, never be afraid to go out from yourselves and begin the journey," the pope wrote. "The Gospel is the message which brings freedom to our lives; it transforms them and makes them all the more beautiful."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 A photo panel shows Pennsylvania Bishops Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh, Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Alfred A. Schlert of Allentown, Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg and Lawrence T. Persico of Erie. The Pennsylvania attorney general released a grand jury report Aug. 14 on a months-long investigation into abuse claims spanning a 70-year period in the six dioceses. (CNS photo/courtesy of the dioceses)
The state’s attorney general said that his office’s two-year investigation identified 301 priests who abused children and more than 1,000 victims.
One of the leading novelists of our age on faith, fiction and his distrust of religious institutions.
James T. KeaneAugust 14, 2018
Panel members Ivor Frank and Alexis Jay at a public hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (courtesy of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse)
The new report finds evidence of appalling sexual and physical mistreatment of students as young as 7, as well as a culture of secrecy, at two abbey schools.
David StewartAugust 14, 2018
The Gospel calls on all of us to get past “analysis paralysis,” where direct action is always put off in favor of more research and discernment.
Mary M. McConnahaAugust 14, 2018