Op bezoek bij het internationaal Amsterdams studentenpastoraat
Wat is roeping en hoe weet je dat je geroepen bent?
Zaterdag 20 januari heb ik een bezoek gebracht aan het internationaal studentenpastoraat in Amsterdam. De voertaal was Engels, maar de studenten kwamen uit allerlei landen, waaronder ook Nederland, Ecuador, Italië, Kroatië, Brazilië, Polen, Syrië, Egypte. Zowel in de heilige Mis als in de ontmoeting daarna, ging het over roeping. Wat is roeping? Heeft iedereen een roeping? Hoe weet je wat je roeping is?
De ontmoeting begon met de heilige Mis in de Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk aan de Keizersgracht in Amsterdam; voor en tijdens de Mis was er biechtgelegenheid waar veel gebruik van werd gemaakt; daarna was er een "potluckdinner" en een gesprek waarin iedereen vragen kon stellen rond het thema van de avond.
Het bijzondere vond ik al dat de groep van zo'n tachtig kerkgangers bijna alleen uit jongeren bestond. Dertig van hen bleven ook voor het gesprek en de maaltijd. Het was allemaal zeer geanimeerd. Priester Eugen Graas draagt zorg voor het studentenpastoraat, ook de rector van de kerk kan. Rafael Ojeda was bij de avond aanwezig..
HOW HE IS CALLING YOU
THIRD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR B
We will all have had some moments in our lives when we clearly felt: this is what I have to do! Such a moment is there when something comes your way, you get a certain inspiration or feel an inner pull to do something. It could be anything. I could give all kinds of examples; for example, that moment is there when someone feels: I should become a caregiver for a dear parent, family member or friend, I feel drawn to participate in work for the homeless, I feel that it is good for me to become a volunteer, to do more with my faith, to pray more and so on and so forth.
Take it seriously
Such an inner pull toward something beautiful and good, is there when something appeals to us; that is something we should always take seriously and explore: Is this what God is asking of me? Is this beautiful challenge on my path? This inner appeal is always about something good to do - if you are able to - something beautiful for another person or for Christ and the Church.
For example, our parishes are supported by numerous volunteers. Without volunteers it does not work. If a church has to close, it is always partly because of the lack of volunteers. A living, powerful community is created through grace in the first place of course and through the efforts of the priests, deacons, catechists or pastoral workers, other staff and countless volunteers. No, we must not leave the priests alone, we must support them. It is a joy for a priest to be in communion with others who cooperate with him positively, creatively and from a deep faith.
This inner attraction, this inspiration to do something beautiful, we may safely call it “vocation”. We all have a vocation; sure, not everyone knows his or her vocation, because it sometimes takes an effort to discern it properly, but we all have a vocation. And your life will reach its fulfilment if you are able to discern and follow this vocation. There is the core of your life!
The wrong side
Of course, you can also be called or drawn to something wrong. We all have this problem. For example, we may not feel like doing something and so we don't do it, or leave something out because it takes some effort anyway, or we get discouraged. But all good things in life require our faithfulness and perseverance. Keep going, stay faithful, stick to your good choices.
I spoke to an attorney this week who assists many individuals who have stolen something or caused destruction, committed domestic violence, abuse or other transgressive behavior. "They are actually almost all nice people," said that lawyer, "only: they do the wrong things, often because of drinking or drugs or a particular need."
Similarly, it can happen to us, even if we do not engage in criminal behavior, that we are drawn to something that is actually not right and do the wrong things, for example, out of weakness, anger, lust, greed or to find a solution to the problems we are in. But it is important to always be honest, straightforward and transparent and choose what is true and good, faithful and just. But don’t get discouraged, always give yourself a fresh start through confession.
Is it the Lord calling me or is it a little devil sitting on my shoulder? It is very important to discern, but if we are inwardly convinced that it is something good and something beautiful that has been placed in our path, then we should do it, because then it is the Lord who is calling us.
In today’s gospel we heard about the first disciples of Jesus. They were fishermen. They were used to being free and doing their own thing. That was their life. But then Jesus came along: He walked by the Sea of Galilee where the disciples were going about their fishing business. The Lord was calling them, and they couldn't help but feel in their hearts that this was the voice of God entrusting them with a life calling. They did not hesitate. They got up and went along and followed Jesus. That one moment when they felt what they had to do, understood their calling and acted on it: what an impact this had on their lives, on church and Christianity and all of history! It was just in that one moment that they did not let themselves remain passive, did not hesitate, did not hold back, but courageously left everything behind, not knowing what the future would bring them. One good choice you make, can have an enormous power in your life!
What does the Lord ask of me? Good Lord, what must I do? It is this question that we may ask ourselves in all kinds of circumstances, because only if we dare to ask ourselves this question honestly will we be able to discover what God has set aside for us, what will give fulfillment to our lives, and therefore what will make us happy.
The more we are generous as human beings and as Christians, willing to give and to donate our time, money, love, attention: the more we do that, the more we will begin to find our vocation and destiny. A generous heart can receive the most beautiful gifts!
Leaving the fishing boat
Jesus called his disciples to become fishers of men. The Fathers here, like so many other priests, once felt called to start a whole new life and give themselves and their whole life, in the service of Christ and the Church. They left the life they had before, which was like their fishing boat, to become a fisherman of people. Please support your priests, with your faith, with your commitment to church life and to the proclamation of the Gospel. And something like that we are all called to do: what is my “fishing boat”, my private life, my own treasure? What do I have to leave behind, what step do I have to take?
With all my heart, I wish all of you God's blessing for that step!