A long time ago a village chief had three sons. Each son had a unique talent: one for raising olive trees; one for tending sheep; one for dancing. The chief had to leave the village to go on a long journey. He called his sons and instructed them to, in his absence, to use their talents to help the villagers. During his absence, the village suffered a severe winter. The people froze and starved. With immense regret, the first son cut down his olive plantation to provide the people with firewood. Likewise, the second sacrificed his sheep in order to feed the people.
When the chief returned he found the village almost empty. He called his sons and asked them to explain. The first two explained that they did all they could to help the people but it was not enough. The winter was too severe. The chief asked the third son what he had done to save the people. The lad explained that the circumstances were so dire that he thought it improper and insensitive to dance.
“Well,” said the chief, “dance for me now.” The third son went to get to his feet but his legs were stiff. He could not stand. He was no longer fit to dance. The chief said sadly, ‘Our village might have survived without warmth and food but they could not survive without hope. You did not use your talent for the people. They are gone. You are crippled.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first disciples. As these disciples begin to follow him they came to recognise him as the Messiah – the one who saves the people. Later, they realised that he gave them the responsibility to bring his message of hope to the people and to use whatever talents they had to spread the Gospel.
Every follower of Jesus Christ (you and me) is given the same task. Each of us has unique talents and gifts. We are to use them in the service of our fellow men and women and the Gospel. We do so in a personal and unique way. Some are called to exercise their gifts as priests, brothers and nuns. Most of us exercise them in secular society as mothers, fathers, office workers, electricians, nurses, teachers etc. Our vocation in life is also where we exercise our mission in life.
The choice and exercise of one’s vocation in life is not a flippant, casual exercise. It is our response to Christ’s call to follow him and serve the people. It requires reflection, discernment and prayer. It includes a frank assessment of our gifts and talents so as to best use them in the service of God and the people.
What one does in life is more than a job. It is our faithful response to Jesus’ invitation to follow
him. A job well done, a vocation well lived well is a path to God and a service to God’s people.
Source: Michael Gilbert C.Ss.R. © Redemptorists 2012