In a crucial match quite often coaches (especially of losing side) step forward and gesture downward. That is a gesture to get the players down to basic principles of that game. The same applies to me also, not because am losing, but it becomes apparent with each passing day that I am in a crucial moment in vocation journey. Decisive commitment to be a laborer in the Lord vineyard and in his Church awaits me. Discernment becomes even more intense as I look for spiritual anchor for my vocation journey and sources of nourishment to continue.
A gospel text (Mk. 2:13-17) I chose recently for meditation gave me some indication. The text narrates the call of Levi, from his custom post and his prompt response. That was after Jesus went along sea shore and a large crowd followed him, and he taught them. Praying with this text series of questions crossed my mind. The man Levi is a tax collector, a social outcast, a traitor, someone considered to be outside salvation; he hasn’t been to any of the preaching sessions of Jesus at sea shore. Yet as Jesus “passed by”, he too was called, and immediately he got up and followed him. There is a missing link here. What made the Lord to call this “public sinner”? What about his immediate response? Some greater must be at work.
Casting my mind back to Ex. 34:6, I find the phrase: the Lord passed by before him. In this remarkable scene, God performed what He had promised to Moses the day before. That is a theophanic experience with content, “The Lord. . . merciful and gracious.” At an earlier period He had announced Himself to Moses, in the glory of His self-existent and eternal majesty, as “I am” (Ex. 3:14); now He makes Himself known in the glory of His grace and goodness. These are attributes that were to be illustriously displayed in the future history and experience of the Church. The call of the Levi should not surprise me. It indicates the most fitting time to proclaim the extent of the divine mercy and abundant love which was to be displayed, not in the case of Israel only, but of all.
Clearly “passing by” in scripture signifies theophanic experience, and with it is an attractive force. When that happy the human object it only left to give prompt response the glory revealed irresistible. It also signifies the Lord’s continual presence, strength, recipe for hope and courage. And so St Paul reminds the Corinthians that “the love of Christ urges us on” (caritas Christi urget no [2Cor. 5:14]).
So I recall that in my sophomore year in high school, while praying school chapel one day trounce sort of experience. I am not sure how long and what happened. I can only describe it as momentary interruption of my consciousness. That filled me with fear and trembling. But after some time I started to reminiscence the experience. It has been my desire and prayer since to have the experience again. But that has not been granted yet.
Put in the context of the whole bible, Mk. 2:13-17 sheds light on my vocation story. It gives it meaning and makes worth sharing. Was it a theophanic experience? Maybe! But one thing is sure; my spiritual directors, since then have helped me draw spiritual nourishment from the wellspring of that experience in this journey of discernment so far.
It has become important for me that the first and necessary step to discerning the purpose and meaning of my life is awareness. Awareness of the diverse ways the Lord “passes by” in our lives. Bound with “passing by” experience is a call addressed to everybody irrespective of socio-religious background, race, gender or economic status. For God does not call the righteous. On the contrary the Lord sanctifies those he has called. It is important to learn that even in the ordinariness of daily life divine purpose (“a gracious design in Christ” [Gal. 1:6b]) is unfolding. This realization fills me with such confidence that even my human inadequacies become strength. For I know, caritas Christi urget nos (the love of Christ urges us on).