We are celebrating National Vocation Awareness week. We all received a call to holiness, but in different ways: as a priest, religious, married couple and family, singles, and so on. Vocation in general is openness to God’s call. How do we foster this call? One of the brochures for Vocation Awareness week talks about seven ways a family can foster vocation: 1) snuggle up and read fascinating age appropriate saints story at bed time; 2) watch a better movie as family (e.g. life a St. John Bosco); 3) Set the record straight, means tell children about real happiness, instead TV tells them what is happiness; 4) Play dress up, let children imagine being a priest or nun and play it out, 5) pray from the heart, have family prayer time and during the family prayer pray for the families, priests and nuns too; 6) Talk about vocations openly, marriage, priesthood and religious life; 7) Befriend priest and religious, invite a priest or nun at your home.
I remember in 2015, 8th grade St. Anthony students invited me as their special guest at the radio station for an interview. Their first question was, why did I became a priest? I told them the short answer is because God called me. Then I explained to them how I found out God was calling me. It was through my family, pastor, nuns, youth group and so on. Definitely I can say that the youth program called “Cherupushpa Mission League” which made a remarkable influence in making my decision. I was very much involved in this youth ministry. I was a participant at the beginning and in my high school years, I was in the leadership team under the guidance of pastor and nuns. The experience with youth ministry encouraged me in my decision making to become a priest.
These are the little steps to teach our children about vocation. Everybody is not going to be a priest or nun. It is their choice, but it our duty to teach them about different vocations and have an opportunity to talk about it and to get to know. When it comes to faith, normally we say it is their choice. But in reality, automatically they are exposed everything else, they should be exposed to faith and its traditions and roots. Then they can make the right choice. Always it starts with prayer. Let us pray for vocation. We all are called to holiness in different paths.
Today we hear the story of the little man Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus the head tax collector, had climbed a tree along the road that Jesus was walking down. He was merely curious. He wanted to see this Jesus. But then Jesus stopped under the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly because today I must stay at your house.” Jesus didn’t intend to stay there. He was passing through Jericho. But something happened that made Him change His plans. Compassion and mercy caused to stay. At the same way was Zacchaeus’ reaction…amazing! He promised to give half his possessions to the poor and payback four times over all he had forced. Jesus cared about Him. Zacchaeus would not let the moment pass.
Jesus loved Zacchaeus- sinner and by that love Zacchaeus was transformed. Sometimes we have the temptation to withhold love from the other. For example, a husband and wife may withhold love from each other. There may be a temptation to withhold one’s love from a rebellious teenager. But just as Jesus loved Zacchaeus even though he was the worst of sinners, so we must love others in spite of their weakness. It is not easy, but let us try it. Let us receive Christ’s peace and love; at the same time let us share Christ’s peace and love to one another.