Vocation Basics: You are already called—Message to youth from Pope Francis

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Pope Francis has emphasized that God loves each one of us as we are and has called each of us by name, warts and all. (Photo: istock/vladans)

While many people begin to consider life as a sister, brother, or priest with the question, “Am I called?” a better question might be, “How am I called?” Pope Francis has encouraged the faithful to recognize that every Christian has a calling, a very personal invitation from God who loves us just as we are. Here are some of his words on the subject, drawn from his address at the welcome ceremony of the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon.

YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN, we are loved the way we are…. Do you understand that? And each of us is called by name.

That is no mere figure of speech; indeed, it is the word of God (see Isaiah 43:1-2 and 2 Timothy 1:9). Dear friends, if God calls you by name, it means that for God none of us is a number, but a face and a heart. I would like each of you to remember that many people know your name, yet they do not call you by name. Certainly your name is known, it appears on social networks and is processed by algorithms that associate it with likes and preferences, all of which is useful for market research, yet it does not begin to approach you in your uniqueness.

How many wolves hide behind smiles of false goodness, saying that they know you, though they do not love you. They insist that they believe in you and promise that you will become someone, but then abandon you when you no longer matter. These are the illusions of the virtual world and we must be careful not to let ourselves be deceived, for many realities that attract us and promise happiness are later shown to be what they really are: soap bubbles, superfluous things that we don’t need and that leave us empty inside. Let me tell you: Jesus is not like that. He trusts you, each of you, each of us, because each of us matters to him, each one of you matters to him. That is how Jesus is.

That is why we, his Church, are the community of those who are called: not of people who are better than others—no, absolutely not—but of sinners, called as such. Let us think seriously for a moment about that: we are called as we are, with our problems and limitations, our overflowing joy, our desire to be better and to get ahead in this world. We are called as we are. Think of this: Jesus calls me as I am, not as I would like to be. We are the community of brothers and sisters of Jesus, sons and daughters of the same Father.

Friends, I want to be clear with you, for you are allergic to falsity and empty words: in the Church, there is room for everyone. Everyone. In the Church, no one is left out or left over. There is room for everyone. Just the way we are. Everyone. Jesus says this clearly. When he sends the apostles to invite people to the banquet which a man had prepared, he tells them: “Go out and bring in everyone,” young and old, healthy and infirm, righteous and sinners. Everyone, everyone, everyone!

In the Church there is room for everyone. “Father, but I am a wretch, is there room for me?” There is room for everyone! … The Lord does not point a finger, but opens his arms. He embraces us all. He shows us Jesus on the cross, who opened his arms wide in order to be crucified and die for us.

Jesus never closes the door, never, but invites you to enter: come and see. Jesus receives, Jesus welcomes. … Each of us transmits the love of Jesus. God loves you. God calls you. How lovely this is! God loves me. God calls me. He wants me to be close to him….

I encourage you to reflect on the beautiful fact that God loves us. God loves us as we are, not how we want to be or how society wants us to be. As we are! He calls us with our faults and failings, our limitations and our hopes in life. That is how God calls us. 

Related article: VocationNetwork.org, “Pope Francis wants YOU to be a missionary.”




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