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Listen to God to hear what is your true calling

Published: January 19, 2022   
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor

Each of us has a calling in life, and it’s up to us to discover what that calling is. A calling is not the same thing as a career. A career is something we choose; a calling is something God chooses for us.

We choose our careers by looking at our talents and interests and concrete possibilities, and then we try to figure out which of these would be our best option for earning a living. What do you like so well that you could do it for a lifetime and get people to pay you for it — your career? But once you know your talents and interests, the bigger question is to discover your calling in life, to choose the path God has picked out for you — your vocation.

A calling is when we live for something bigger than ourselves and our own personal advancement. Callings can be full-time or something you do as a volunteer. But in either case, they are chosen for reasons that go beyond the values and rewards of this present world. And even when the calling is to something you do as a volunteer, if it’s truly a calling, you find yourself thinking about it all the time.

Any kind of employment or activity can be a calling if it’s what God is calling you to do. You can choose a career by yourself, but to have a calling, you have to listen for the voice of God — the one who calls — and then respond.

"A calling is not the same thing as a career. A career is something we choose; a calling is something God chooses for us."

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the event that began Jesus’ public ministry — the start of his vocation as teacher and healer and redeemer — his true calling in life. In order to respond to this calling, Jesus had to make a mid-life career change. He left his career in carpentry to pursue his true vocation in life: to announce and establish the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven. Not everyone understood: to leave a good job to pursue this uncertain and dangerous future?

Even some of his own family thought he was crazy. In today’s Gospel, we have Jesus’ prefigurement at the time of his calling, of four of our sacraments: he was baptized by John (baptism) for the forgiveness of sins (even though he didn’t have any — reconciliation). The Holy Spirit descended on him (confirmation), and God’s voice declared: “You are my beloved Son. On you my favor rests” (ordination).

Our second reading from Acts of the Apostles says: “God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil, and God was with him.” God called, and Jesus responded.

Have you discovered your true calling in life? Jesus was 30 when he had this experience at the Jordan River that changed his life completely, and through him, all of human history. It’s not written that God’s call comes only when we’re in 12th grade or before we have to choose a major in college.

Many of us reach mid-life before life’s difficulties have stretched us enough and humbled us enough to hear God’s voice, God’s call. Read the “Lives of the Saints” — some knew their calling early on, but others were much older than you might think, and most were not priests and nuns. Some hear an initial call and then, later, a subsequent call within the call. Mother Teresa first heard God’s call to become a nun in a teaching order, which brought her to India. Only when she reached mid-life did she hear her call within the call, to give her life in service to the poor and suffering on the streets of Kolkata.

Do you remember why God made us? “To know him, love him and serve him in this life, and to be happy with him forever in the next.” Well, then each of us needs to ask God in prayer just exactly how he wants us to serve him in this life. Prayer is the key to hearing your call and to opening your heart to know God’s will — and do it. At which point, God gives us all the grace we need to respond.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Jan. 9.

Bishop Taylor wants you to know more about your faith and the Church: Read Arkansas Catholic's free digital edition.


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