“….then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Mt. 13:44
Isn’t this what we all hope for; to find the treasure that will satisfy all of our wants, all of our needs, everything we have ever dreamed for!? And we are so happy with our treasure; we will sell everything to buy it. Really? Everything? To Christians, the answer to the dilemma seems obvious, of course we would. Yet, how many of us would pay that price for ourselves, let alone ask someone else to do it for our sake?
This is often how I have felt when asked to pray for vocations, or to pray for young men to answer the call. Do we have the right to ask someone from our community to give up everything so that we can continue to practice our faith in the way we always have? I can’t help but wonder if the reward of priesthood is worth the price to be paid. If I had a son, would I want him to turn his back on the possibility of marriage or having a family? If I compare it to married life, I know absolutely that any sacrifices made to be a wife are more than worth the treasures gained. My husband and my girls are the biggest rewards, and then all of the opportunities realized because of them. Is it possible that I am thinking about vocation incorrectly?
In a society that has become so focused on self-fulfillment, it perhaps isn’t surprising that we wonder if a call to the priesthood or religious life is a worthy treasure, one worth giving ‘everything’ up. Do I secretly wonder if priests give up more than they receive through their vocation? And what about other religious? Brothers and Sisters often live more quietly than priests; what are they giving up? So, the question becomes, if I know this to be true in that my vocation is worth the sacrifices, why do I struggle with this for those giving their lives to the church more formally?
Matthew gives us an opportunity to think about this differently. There is something worth giving up absolutely everything for; and that is Christ. And the rewards offered are profound. For religious it could be relationships built with other priests, and leadership in other denominations and religions as well as parishioners. They have opportunities to accompany people and to make differences in many lives. I know this in my heart, but it can be easy to question a commitment so total. However, we are called as a Christian community to help each other reach the Kingdom; and if a person is called to do that through a religious vocation, then it is my job to pray for exactly that.
Vocations and praying for them belong to the entire community. This isn’t something to be left to young men and women that may feel called, or to their parents or grandparents. God has created for us treasures, fine pearls and seas full of fish. Let us all pray for each other, that we may realize the treasure God intends for us; and for the courage to sell everything we have in order to attain it.
By Serena Shaw
Vocation Team – Oblate Associate
Phone: (780) 231-3066