Vocations Sunday: “Grace and Mission”Sunday 30th April 2023
Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter, a day traditionally observed by the Church as a day to pray for vocations.
Established in 1964, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is an invitation for all people to consider their role in the Kingdom of God, and how our own lives, gifts, and talents might be used in the love and service of God and His people.
This year’s theme is “Vocation: Grace and Mission”, reminding us that each one of us has a unique role to play in proclaiming the Gospel, and how that role – that mission – is given to us through the grace of God.
Pope Francis introduced this year’s theme with a reference to St Paul (Ephesians 1:4-5), declaring God’s invitation to take up our mission is as old as time itself; that “God the Father “chose us before the foundation of the world.””
Through the words of Pope Francis, we discover that this mission is more than simply a task that we’re asked to accomplish but is instead the very heart of who we are and our personal relationship with God.
This theme is one our diocese explored most recently in Holy Week, when we took a closer look at how the answer to our relentless search for happiness was, in fact, fulfilling our own God-given mission to live a life of holiness.
Pope Francis echoes this today, saying: “In the course of our lives, this call, which is part of the fibre of our being and the secret of our happiness, comes to us by the work of the Holy Spirit in ever new ways. It enlightens our minds, strengthens our wills, fills us with amazement and sets our hearts afire.”
However, Pope Francis is eager to remind us that no single mission is the same: we each have our own part to play in building up the Kingdom of God.
This idea is not alien to us as Bishop John continually reminds us of this, sharing with us the words of Cardinal John Henry Newman: “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission.”
Pope Francis echoes this in his message today, describing the Church as a vocational “symphony”, in which each player – each person – has their own unique part to play that is only truly understood in the context of the overall masterpiece.
He explained: “Only in relation with all the others, does any particular vocation in the Church fully disclose its true nature and richness. Viewed in this light, the Church is a vocational “symphony”, with every vocation united yet distinct, in harmony and joined together in “going forth” to radiate throughout the world the new life of the kingdom of God.”
The Good Shepherd
Today is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, taking its name from the parable we read in today’s Gospel.
As such, we reflect on the theme “Vocation: Grace and Mission” through the eyes of the sacred priesthood, praying especially for priests in our diocese and those discerning a call to priestly life.
Speaking about Good Shepherd Sunday in light of Pope Francis’ message today, our Vocations Director Fr Mark Paver considers how we might all have a part to play in supporting the future of the priesthood in our diocese.
He said: “The parable of The Good Shepherd we read in today’s Gospel remains an important image for the role of the priesthood within our communities but one aspect that is interesting to consider is the role of the flock.
“We learn from Pope Francis today that each of us has a unique mission in the life of our Church and each mission works together and supports each other to help build up the kingdom of God.
“Not everyone will be called to a specific vocation such as the priesthood or religious life, but your unique mission could be the key to unlocking that vocation in others.
“Whether through prayer or offering guidance or advice, our words and actions can have a profound impact on helping others understand their own particular mission, and this culture of prayer and conversation is something we’re striving to nurture through our regular vocations Masses.”
Our diocesan Masses for Vocations to the Priesthood take part in a different deanery of the diocese every month. Our next Mass will take place at 7pm on Thursday 25th May at St Mary’s church in Bamber Bridge.
Grace and Mission: A Gift and a Task
Pope Francis ends his message today with this same invitation: to embrace a culture of thoughtful prayer and earnest consideration about our individual and combined mission.
He said: “Dear brothers and sisters, vocation is a gift and a task, a source of new life and true joy.
“May the initiatives of prayer and of activity associated with this Day strengthen an awareness of vocation within our families and our communities.”
Today, we invite you to join us as we pray that God may grant us the grace to hear His unique call for each one of us, to better understand the part we were created to play in His “symphony”, and – by doing so – to bear collective witness to God’s light and love in our world.