Christianity contains many vocations by which to live. As Cistercians we have a vocation to pray and praise God through the Divine Office. It is a hidden life, to a greater extent. There are other vocations, too, from running large parishes and the married life, to single life and teaching, amongst many. The entire Christian landscape is one of many varied vocations.
Whatever our vocation, though, we may not always remember that service is at the heart of what we do. Ours, as monks, is a reciprocal service to God and our community, making our lives one of encounter with our Creator whilst striving to offer him to others by our example This service is repeated, whatever the vocation we have in life, whether as teacher, married couple, single person, or whatever is your chosen way.
Each of these vocations contains a dark road, a road where suffering is inevitable, just as Christ’s Cross was inevitable at the close of his ministerial life in Galilee.
And, it is when we remember that ours is a life of service that our cross becomes lighter. Jesus’s Cross was one of service because, through it, he redeemed the world. Suffering and dying for the sake of it wouldn’t have had any purpose; Jesus went through the Cross because it was service, service that aligned with the will of his Father. And it is the same for us: when we remember that our work is for God’s kingdom, the load becomes lighter. We are able to act and think and do, within the context of our vocations, knowing that God is with us.
The disciples quarrelled about who was the greatest. We can do the same. We can pit one vocation against the next, thinking that we are more special than the others, that our service is more meaningful than than that of the next person. This is not the way of Christ, who lives in such diversity through each of our lives. Christ’s way is one of humility, of serving all.
So, as we come to renew our vocations each day, let us remember that God is truly with us, despite the suffering and the hardship that humanity brings. Let us be people of service, ever waiting and eager to give of ourselves as Christ gives himself for us, ever ready to show our love for him through our humility, and willing to endure the cross for our salvation. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the Gospel according to Mark 9: 30-37
Glory to you, O Lord
After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him. They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said,
‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.‘
He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them,
‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me;
and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.