Discerning Your Vocation

6 November 2007. Tuesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time
Romans 12, 5-16, Luke 14,15-24 Charisms and Ministries

The Holy Spirit has granted each person with a charism, a gift out of the generosity and love of God. The general meaning covers all graces: from the specific grace we receive in prayer, the community where we belong, the essential unity that we have as Christians (we feel at home abroad when we are in a Catholic church), forgiveness and salvation from our sins, to eternal life. The specific meaning of the Greek, charisma includes everything that we have — including our skills, talents and education — needed to perform our duty in the building of the Kingdom of God. These gifts are given according to and in the manner of who we are (1 Corinthians 1, 7). However, there are those given with extraordinary gifts: healing, prophesy, discernment of spirits, and interpretation (1 Corinthians 12, 8-10). All of these charisms make up our role in the Church and in the world.

This is the point of Paul in his letter to the Romans: since we have been given gifts for a particular role, we must use them for the welfare of the whole body of Christ. If one of us malfunctions, it affects the rest of humanity.

The Gospel drives home this invitation to perform our roles in building the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, as Jesus teaches us, is like a Banquet: it is realized when we respond to the call of the King. However, there are many distractions that unable us to respond to the invitation: it can be a new interest like the person who purchased a new field, or a business endeavor and an exciting event like the one who would evaluate oxen for his trade, or a new relationship like the one who just got married. The fault in Jesus’ story is not from the king. In the time of Jesus, invitations to banquets are given long before the event. But the time of the banquet is not set: those who are invited are expected to dedicate the whole day for it. To prepare for that day makes the event significant. For example, you cancel all appointments of the day in favor of a friend’s wedding so that your full attention is given solely to your friend’s special day. Therefore, what would make the Banquet successful is the positive response of the people to the call of the king; and the response to this call in our life entails the full exercise of our charisms.

When our charisms are used at the service of a community, your service becomes a ministry. Thus, if a teacher uses his skills for a community of learners, then teaching becomes a ministry. If a musician plays or a choir sings for a parish community, then their service is called the Music Ministry. If one uses one’s speaking voice and reading skills at mass, it is called the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators. If one shares his or her gift with the young, then it is called a youth ministry. So, if you want to know your vocation, you can check your gifts and see whether these gifts point to a form of life. Your charisms qualify you for a specific task or role in the greater scheme of things. For example, if you are not good in math, but you would like to be an engineer: what you want may not be where you should be. If you are tone-deaf, the choir might not be your place.

Perhaps today, we may reflect on our charisms. Are we discovering and developing our charisms for the service of the community? Are we distracted by our fears, concerns and preoccupations that we reject or postpone responding to God’s call?

*Silke Hipolito (violinist) teaches a choir during the Payatas Choir Training Workshop sponsored by Canto Cinco Chorale (C5), Musica Chiesa and the Jesuit Music Ministry.

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