I usually enjoy the messages for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, but this year’s message by Pope Francis struck me in a particular way because of its connection to the Year of Mercy.
I am very grateful to God for the gift of my vocation—a gift that I never felt that I deserved, but one that I have always joyously cherished. Before this year, I wouldn’t have described my vocation in terms of mercy, but that’s the exact point that Pope Francis makes in his Message for the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which was celebrated April 17th:
The Lord’s merciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission. Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and vocation are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple’s life. – Pope Francis, Message for 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Isn’t that beautiful? If our relationship with God is shaped by mercy, then our vocation, too, is a gift of God’s mercy. Our conversion and vocation are so connected that Pope Francis calls them two sides of the same coin!
If we think of our vocation in terms of gratefully receiving the mercy of God, then the question of being worthy or deserving one’s vocation disappears, because mercy is gratuitous by definition. (If we deserved mercy, it wouldn’t be called “mercy,” it would be called “justice.”) Whatever love we are able to share in our vocation becomes an expression of God’s mercy for others.