Discernment: “I wish that you were either cold or hot”
“A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.” (Matthew 21:28-29)
Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. Those encounters are the moments where God, just like the father in this weekend’s Gospel, issues a specific invitation, a call to embrace a uniquely designed way of life.
I see those encounters as a continuous part of my journey of missionary discipleship. I call them “God’s moments”. They are never planned, scheduled or premeditated. They always happen in the most appropriate time by the grace of God. I experience those God’s moments sometimes in prayer or during a walk in through nature, watching the sunset or simply getting into “the zone” during my morning run.
The question is, how do we respond to those encounters set in front of us “a new horizon and a decisive direction” … As the Gospel shows, sometimes we might quickly say “yes”, but actually never follow up on it. Sometimes we might initially say “no” and change our mind later on. However, the right decision, and more importantly, a committed one, is made after some time of discernment. It’s not the initial “no” that counts, but the mind-changing “yes”.
I recall the encounter that meaningfully marked my Oblate vocation journey. When I was approaching my final vows, I felt I wasn’t ready to make the commitment. I wasn’t able to name a specific “problem”; it just didn’t feel right to go through the motions just because it was time for it. I took my temporary vows that year and embraced the journey of an intense discernment which wasn’t easy and sometimes was even painful. When watching my classmates make their perpetual profession, I felt “left behind”. Then one day I came across the passage from the Book of Revelation, “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.” (Revelation 3:15). It was an encounter with God’s word that challenged me to a total oblation. I knew I couldn’t be lukewarm… It was a matter of “all in” or “all out”. I knew that my only answer could be, “all in”! I often go back to this passage from the Book of Revelation renewing my commitment to the missionary discipleship as an Oblate priest.
“A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’” What would your answer be?
By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
Vocation Director – OMI Lacombe Canada
Phone: (905) 522-9828 Ext 305