Vocation: Be a Loving Word of God

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora shares the fruit of her reflection in struggling to understand the notions of “vocation” and “call”.

When I was young and in the process of discerning my vocation, it was common to ask young religious and seminarians who participated in vocation retreats to recount how they “got” their vocation. In my mind, it does not ring true to speak of vocations in the same way that we speak about ‘getting’ a new job. My thoughts are born out of much reflection as I struggle to understand the notions of “vocation” and “call”.


The word “vocation: is related to words like VOICE and VOCAL.  These words, in turn, are related to other words like SPEECH and WORD, which in turn bring to mind John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Wtih these opening words, John the Evangelist wishes to call to mind the first words God spoke in the Scriptures…

Then God said: “ Let there be light…Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters…Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear…Let the earth bring forth vegetation…Let there be lights in the dome of the sky…Let the waters team with an abundance of living creatures…Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures…Let us make man in our image and likeness…And so it happened! God looked at everything that he had made, and he found it very good!”

This familiar text from Genesis reveals that God created all things, including the human person, by his Word. This means that in a way, we can say that all of creation was “spoken” into existence. And lest we fail to notice, the creation that came into being at his Word is called good. With this adjective, Genesis reveals that both the speaker (God) and the word spoken (creation) are loving…for goodness reveals love.

Creation was “spoken” into existence. Even more especially, the human person was “spoken” into existence, and each human person is still “spoken” into natural existence by our loving Father. Hence, we say, in a certain sense, that all of creation, and in a special way the human person, IS a loving word of God the Father in and for the world. For the creatures of the visible world signify the invisible things of God. (Bonaventure, Souls Journey Into God, II, 12) Each human person is a loving word of God to the world…and if we are a loving word, we are our vocation.
The Psalmist give voice to his amazement at the grandeur of God’s having called him into existence when he says: When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, that you set in place–What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet. (Ps 8:4-7)

God, not satisfied at “speaking” the human person into natural existence, “speaks” us into supernatural existence! At our baptism, God the Father “speaks” us into supernatural existence, through the ministry of the Church, transforming our very normal selves, body and soul, into a place where the Trinity dwells. While all of creation bears traces or vestiges of God’s power, baptism transforms the human person into a place where God’s own personal presence abides.

By our baptism, we are transformed into a loving word of God the Father that is loaded with supernatural grace and capacity..if we but had the faith of a mustard seed!

Our vocation, then, revealed in our creation and in our baptism, is not something that we “get”, but it is who we are. By our creation, we are and exist to be a loving Word of God in and for the world. By our baptism, we are and exist to be the ground for a unique personal presence of God in the Church and in the world. Before any one of us speaks a loving word to others, or shows our love to others through loving deeds, each of us IS a loving word to God the Father. This realization is the root of all self-respect and self-love by which we express our dignity as human persons…and it is the root of all service offered within and by the church.

...for He who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God for having created me. -St. Clare of Assisi

What’s your understanding of vocation?