05 Editorial - Called to Holiness and Happiness

posted Jan 16, 2019, 8:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 17, 2019, 6:42 PM ]
Pope Francis continues to inspire and challenge the youth of today to be generous in their response to God. In his video message for World Youth Day, to be held in Panama (January 22-27, 2019), the Pope invites youth to reflect on the theme of Mary's response to God's call, found in the gospel of Luke. Mary realised that God was calling her to play a special role in His plan of salvation; this was her vocation, and in responding to it, she would find fulfilment. Reflecting on Mary's response, Pope Francis reminds young people of some characteristics of their own vocation.

Every vocation is firstly a call to go out of oneself and serve God and others. This desire to be of service is often visible in young people. The Pope says that this "revolution of service" can bring about a change in the world. It is encouraging to see many young persons today offering their time and energy in voluntary service to the suffering and the needy – through Church organisations and other groups in society. They are ready to serve, and they find meaning in lending a helping hand and being there for others.

If the call is to be realised, it is necessary that the person connects with God, and listens as God speaks. God communicates with us in a variety of ways – through Scripture and the celebration of the Sacraments, in community prayer and moments of stillness and silence, through the love and religious atmosphere in the family, or the faithful witness of persons, through the happenings in society or in college or at work or while travelling, through our care of the environment and the cry of the sick and suffering. In all these situations, the Lord speaks, and the young person who is attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit will slowly learn the will of God. When Mary said "Yes" to God's plan, her life moved in a direction very different from what she would have imagined. But with trust in God and openness, she responded and let God lead her at every step.

Discerning what God wants of us is a process involving prayer, introspection and dialogue with persons who are strong in faith and can guide us with their experience. In his message for World Youth Day in 2018, Pope Francis wrote, "Dear young people, do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone. Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people, with whom you share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life."

A person who has discerned his or her vocation and responded courageously will be a happy person. When our dream for ourselves and God's dream for us coincide, something wonderful happens. We are on the path of truth and holiness. We experience a deep sense of joy, and we radiate that joy to others. Even if things are difficult and there are challenges before us, we experience in the depths of our being a joy that God alone can give. Pope Francis reminds us that "Mary was a happy woman, and this is because she replied generously to God and opened her heart to God's plan for her … To respond to God positively is to take a first step towards being happy and towards making many people happy."

I pray that Mary will guide all young persons and help them to discern what God is calling them to be, just as she understood her own vocation. May the service that youth offer make a difference in their families, their neighbourhoods, their parishes and in society. And may the joy of following Christ remain in their hearts always.

Bp John Rodrigues, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay