Called to Serve: An Invitation to Friendship
By Friar Mario Serrano, OFM Conv.
I am amazed and I do believe it is no accident that Jesus’ first followers came from a diversity of careers. Scripture does not describe the backgrounds of all of Jesus’ disciples; however, it does reveal that Peter, Andrew, James, and John, were fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). Matthew was a tax-collector (Matthew 10:3). The professions of the other seven disciples are unknown. What we do know is that Jesus, inspired by his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, called each one of them into a friendship. Through this friendship, each came to the realization of their distinct role and began the ministry of serving the People of God.
Today, the call to serve is still given to and responded by a diversity of people. The Spirit of God invites all people of different cultures into a relationship with the Trinity. Within this call to serve, some of us respond by seeking to live the Rule and Life inspired by St. Francis, primarily to follow the teaching and footprints of Jesus Christ. Through this response, our Franciscan community serves and speaks to the hearts of many people throughout the world.
Jesus spoke about sheep to shepherds, fields and seeds to farmers, and fish to fishermen. And so, within our community, each friar is able to serve, to speak, and to minister to a variety of people through their God given talents and abilities that are a gift to be shared with others.
I have been fortunate to be in university ministry for almost a decade where my initial desire to teach is fulfilled by engaging and animating university students to discover their own encounter with Christ and to take on the willingness to serve the People of God.
It is truly a gift when we recognize, surrender to, and ultimately come to realize, that God meets us where we are at and, through God’s merciful love, challenges us to get in relationship with God and others. When we fully experience and accept God’s merciful love, we are thrusted into bearing witness the teaching and footprints of Jesus Christ by the way we live in relationship with ourselves, others, and all of God’s creation.
Pope Francis, in his most recent Apostolic Exhortation to Young People and the Entire People of God, Christ is Alive, ask a series of questions inviting us to imagine that these questions are from our friend, Jesus. The Jesus that called his early disciples and St. Francis into a friendship is even calling you and me.
“When seeking to discern our own vocation, there are certain questions we ought to ask. We should not start with wondering where we could make more money or achieve greater recognition and social status. Nor even by asking what kind of work would be most pleasing to us. If we are not to go astray, we need a different starting point. We need to ask: Do I know myself, quite apart from my illusions and emotions? Do I know what brings joy or sorrow to my heart? What are my strengths and weaknesses? These questions immediately give rise to others: How can I serve people better and prove most helpful to our world and to the Church? What is my real place in this world? What can I offer to society? Even more realistic questions then follow: Do I have the abilities needed to offer this kind of service? Could I develop those abilities? (#285)”
“[T]he most important question of all. “So often in life, we waste time asking ourselves: ‘Who am I?’ You can keep asking, ‘Who am I?’ for the rest of your lives. But the real question is: ‘For whom am I?’” Of course, you are for God. But he has decided that you should also be for others, and he has given you many qualities, inclinations, gifts and charisms that are not for you, but to share with those around you.”
I can’t wait to hear and see how you respond to this friendship!
May it be in sharing your life with all, as God shares life and love with all.