The biblical concept of ‘calling’ or ‘vocation’ always has something to do with their understanding of their destiny as the People of God. Ideally, it was not possible to separate the concept of what they were called to be from their belief that they were destined to be with God eternally if they remained faithful to the graces that God gave them in their lives. This means that for the Jewish mind, their sense of ‘calling,’ lived out in the secular world was inextricably joined to their self-concept and destiny as the People of God. The same should still be true of Christians today! But is it?

I think one of the big problems facing the Church today is trying to reunite the Christian understanding of vocation and eternal destiny. In a climate of individualism the two seem to get separated from one another. This is increasingly apparent in the way that Christians seem to be able to compartmentalize their lives, that is, this part of my life is for God and my religious duties and this other part is devoted to the more worldly and secular pursuits usually associated with physical survival and the seeking of pleasure. The tension that arises with such a dichotomy inevitably seems to result in the spiritual aspect giving way to the secular. Humanity is not able to keep these two aspects in tension and we get either a super-spiritual Christian living his or her life over and against the world or a Christian whose lifestyle is indistinguishable from that of a non-Christian.

I believe that the solution to this problem is found in seeing that the two aspects should not be in tension as such but in dialogue. Their relationship is not a dichotomy but a symbiosis! The two aspects both nourish and are nourished by each other. This is only possible when we see that whatever our vocation is, be it priest, lawyer, nurse, laborer etc, they are all ‘calls’ from God. In each of them we are called to sanctify our workplace and bring the religious aspect of our lives to bear upon the secular and vice-versa.

When the religious and secular aspects of our lives are separated from each other and become seen as competing entities, we inevitable fall into the trap of treating them as such and we lose the ability to live our lives in a holistic way. Not only do we become individuals fighting for our place in the world; we also find that each part is fighting the other within! As Jesus tells us in the Gospels, a person divided against him or herself cannot hope to survive. Nor will Christianity survive unless it rediscovers a holistic understanding of its vocation in the world.

Do I always find myself running out of time in a day to pray? Perhaps I need to reexamine how I understand my sense of ‘call’ and see it more holistically.

Holy Spirit, guide me in the way of truth so that I will be better able to understand my place and vocation in the Church and to discover how I should live it in the context of life. Help me to learn how to sanctify the secular world with my work.