When I was 18 years old, I felt the calling to become a priest. It was 1993 and I was in my senior year of high school. At the time, I had been dating a girl for about 18 months and, at her suggestion, we had taken a break for me to discern my vocation better. Looking back, it was a very courageous suggestion she made.

After taking a break from the relationship I started to pray more and to go to daily Mass more often. In the beginning I would just go to Mass after school, but it turned quickly into going to Mass every single day. I also remember reading several times some of the works by St. Alphonsus Ligori. Additionally, I started to pray the Rosary daily too.

One day, I came upon a very simple flyer for a parish mission. This simple text was speaking about Jesus dying on the Cross and redeeming us, and the Sacraments of the Church being rivers of grace that come down from Calvary to us, to give us life. Immediately I felt in myself a certainty: “Becoming a priest, I can be a channel of the love of Jesus for people. Nothing is preventing me from that. I could say yes to the calling right now.” I knelt crying and I promised the Lord and the Blessed Mother that if they wanted me to become a priest, I would. I think that even then, I secretly hoped the Lord would not call me. A couple of days later, while talking with a good friend, I realized that the Lord was indeed calling me. I entered the seminary right after high school and was finally ordained a priest in 2006.

Countless priests and nuns have similar stories. But the calling of Christ is not only for priests and nuns. Countless of lay people have stories of conversion when the Lord called them from a mediocre life to a life striving for holiness.

This is what happened in today’s Gospel when Jesus called Peter and Andrew saying, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

The first step in embracing a call to holiness or to a particular vocation is listening. For that, we need to spend some time in daily prayer. We won’t listen if we don’t spend time conversing with the Lord, reflecting on his life, and receiving the Sacraments.
To listen is also to trust in his plan for us, his love, and his mercy. Jesus’ plan is going to be the best plan for us. The path that Jesus has for us is where we will be able to be the happiest, the most fulfilled in our lives.

The second step is to follow, to say yes. To follow Jesus into the unknown. For this step, we can look to Mary who in the Annunciation said “fiat,” let it be done. She did not know in advance about the flight to Egypt or the Cross. She knew that it was not going to be easy, but she trusted. She did know that the Lord would give her abundant grace every step of the way.
Also, in the Annunciation, we find another key for following: humility. In a way, the Lord wants to do only what we let him do. He does great things on us in proportion to our humility.

The third step is mission, becoming “fishers of men.” When we listen and we follow Christ, it is not just for us but for the whole entire Church. For this mission, we shouldn’t look so much at our own qualities but at the great things that the Lord will do through us if we abandon ourselves in his loving hands.

We find then some themes: Openness, trust, and humility.

What is Jesus calling us to, today? Let us open our hearts to his calling and follow it with great joy and trust.

Jan 22 | Third Sunday in Ordinary Time