Our Christian Vocation
Luke:3. 15-16. 21-22
Dcn Tony van Vuuren
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord challenges us to reflect on our own baptism and its significance in our lives. At a time when many people have abandoned God it is imperative that we as Christians are committed to living the baptised life.
For those of us who have been baptised it is not something which just happened a long time ago and which “made” us Catholics. It is not just a ceremony lasting a few minutes which produces magical effects; it is the beginning of a lifelong journey. It is the beginning of a process of growing into the Body of Christ as its members.
Baptism is the most fundamental of all the sacraments; it is the key to receiving all the others. I recall Fr Guy illustrating this at our son’s baptism with the analogy of having a modern kitchen full of electrical appliances and not being able to use any of them because the house was not connected to the Eskom main supply!
Although most of us were far too young to even remember it, we should never forget to give thanks to God that our parents brought us to the waters of Baptism.
From a spiritual point of view it was probably the most important thing they could do for us. Our baptism is essentially also a community experience; not just a private family event, although in the way it was “celebrated” it may have looked like that. It involves active participation in the life of the Church, not just passive membership, sitting here in the pews. The baptism of RCIA candidates on Holy Saturday night is a wonderful example of baptism being celebrated with full community participation.
Unless we are faithful to our baptismal promises by rejecting evil and being obedient to Christ, we cannot claim to be authentic disciples of Jesus. To be baptised is to be christened, to be made like Christ. But this doesn’t happen automatically as a result of being baptised. One has to learn what it means to be a Christian and to grow into it. This is a task of a lifetime. Hopefully our parents will have continued, together with our godparents to instil in us, Christian values throughout our formative years.
There are many vocations in the church, but the most important vocation of all is common to all the baptised. It is the vocation we receive at baptism—– Christian vocation; the vocation to be a disciple of Jesus. This is the core vocation for all of us. Every other vocation in the church must be seen in relation to this one! At our baptism we answered Jesus’ call: “Come follow me.” We received the call to be disciples of Jesus.
Sadly, many of the baptised go on to live no differently from the non-baptised. Their faith, if they practise it at all, is an immature faith, based on non-decision and routine practice. The need is to believe with understanding; and to follow Christ out of personal conviction.
Christian vocation is a call to be “the salt of the earth, and the light of the world’. Christianity is about how to live, not just about what to believe. There should be no distinction between religious activity and our daily routines. Faith has to be translated into action. We shouldn’t bother proclaiming that we believe unless we act accordingly. We need to always be in a position to believe with our hearts and practice with our lives the faith that we profess with our lips!
As Christians we have a very positive role to play in the world. We have something to offer, something the world desperately needs, even though it may not always welcome it. We should not be shy or apologetic about our role as Christian disciples. A certain boldness and courage is called for.
We must also keep at the forefront of our minds the fact that by our Baptism and Confirmation we are assigned an important mission; that of sharing the Gospel with others; not only through the scriptures, but as a community. For many of us a daunting prospect, because we might not feel very well qualified to carry out something so overt; perhaps exposing our own limited knowledge; ( personal experience!) but we should not fear it because, as with many things to do with our faith, this task is full of paradox.
When we share our faith with others we do not end up with less faith; we end up with more. The very act of sharing our faith means that it is in itself enriched. The more we share our faith with others the more it grows and deepens in us and the better we feel about it. A great example of this happening is the Lifeteen core group, young folk of our parish, who are responsible for teaching and sharing with our teenagers on a Sunday evening.
So what does the following of Christ mean for us ordinary folk?
It means to be a Christian where we are socially and in our chosen profession. There are many ways of serving Christ and His Gospel. The call in the first instance is not to an apostolate, but to discipleship.
Each one of us is called to be a living witness to the Gospel: a lamp radiating light for all. Our baptism is a never-ending call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
So let us today on this feast of the Baptism of our Lord, marking the beginning of His public ministry, renew our faith in and our commitment to follow Jesus. Let us re-affirm our readiness to carry on his work.
For it is a sobering fact that without our co-operation, much of God’s work will never get done.
Ref: Fr Flor McCarthy