... Discipleship and Vocation?
16th MAY 2017
Jesus called his disciples to 'follow' him. In those seven words lie the foundations of both vocation and discipleship, it seems to me. It was the kind of invitation that seemed impossible to turn down. Whatever their background they followed him, even to the foot of the cross.
Whether impetuous fisherman or scheming tax collector, sister of a dead man raised to life or heart-broken mother, they all followed him and became his disciples (Even his mother? Yes, I think so, even his mother).
Where, then, did vocation fit for Peter or Matthew or Mary or Mary?
Well, perhaps becoming a follower of Jesus is something both individual and collective. It is a decision that inevitably leads to forming a community. A follower becomes part of something bigger. A follower, a disciple, is also someone committed to a way of living that then grows into something bigger. And that 'bigger, is vocation.
The root of the word vocation is vocare, which means 'call' in Latin. In this sense, Jesus called his disciples into something bigger than themselves. And then out of that joining in came specific roles and responsibilities. In the pattern of the early church, we learn that individuals were set aside for particular tasks and purposes. Paul writes lists to do with these roles. Perhaps one of the most well known is the sense of specific vocations listed in the letter to the Ephesians in 4.11-13.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to maturity, to the measure of the stature of Christ.
Christian vocation then is about the individual calling of people, young and old, to enter into the bigger picture of the body of Christ to build up every one to become fulfilled disciples, followers, of Jesus. Is this the beginning of an answer to my question? What do you think?