Each Sunday we gather in our church for the celebration of Mass. As well as singing and praying together we listen to readings from the Bible.
In the last few weeks we have been hearing the stories of how God called specific people and gave them a task.
The prophets were called to urge the people to return to God; the apostles were called by Jesus to carryon his work and to establish the Church throughout the world.
In all these cases God promised to guide and protect those he had called. Sometimes they were afraid to carry out their mission, the cost seemed too great. Even if they ran away from the challenges of their calling, God used all the circumstances of their lives to renew their courage.
This year, in the Catholic Church throughout the world, we are invited to reflect on the rich variety of callings, all blessed by God. Marriage and family life are at the heart of our parish communities.
The call to be a good husband or wife, father or mother, is a constant challenge and a constant blessing.
The call of a parish priest is also familiar to many people, a call to serve the Church in a specific way by celebration of the sacraments, prayer and preaching for the good of the people in his care.
Another calling which might not be so familiar to people is the call to religious life or consecrated life.
This is a term we use for monks and nuns, or religious brothers and sisters, who live a shared community life and have a particular mission.
They all make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, sharing all in common, not marrying, and being willing to surrender self-centredness for the greater good.
The variety of religious life is huge. We have monks and nuns who are devoted to a contemplative life and support themselves by manual labour.
We have hermits who lead a solitary life of prayer and penance.
We have religious orders founded for missionary work abroad. We have religious communities who devote themselves to caring for the sick or to the education of children.
Such a rich variety of religious life and of callings within the Church is held together by a simple desire to love and serve God, using the unique gifts and talents given to each of us, and to show God’s love for others in as many ways as possible.