We will try to identify some “symptoms” of a vocation by analysing the calls of Andrew and John who were amongst the first called to be part of Jesus’ family. St John has left a beautiful testimony in his Gospel (Jn 1:35-42). St Andrew had already grown to manhood when he was called, whilst John was still a youth. Both of them were disciples of St John the Baptist and therefore were living with the hope of the coming of the Messiah, the Saviour of Israel, who would bring a future of peace and justice.
From this fact we can identify the first symptom:
John and Andrew were men who desired to build a new and better world. They were searching for the person who could tell them what to do. In your life have you also desired great things, to put yourself in the service of others? Do you have the desire to contribute to history and building a better, more just society? To do these things perhaps you also have realised that you need the help of a Person who will not delude you. Let us look again at the words of St John’s Gospel:
“and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’. The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus”. (Jn 1:36-37)
Here we can see the second symptom:
Do you feel attracted to those who speak of God and help you to see a different reality? They open up the possibility to look for the realisation of the Kingdom of God. The attraction presented by a Sister who always has a smile for everyone and by their lives that they are happy even though they are nothing themselves. You observe them in order to understand their “secret”. This is how John and Andrew followed the Baptist. They were attracted to find the Kingdom of God that he announced. However, the Baptist sent them to Jesus: “I am not the Messiah” (Jn 1:20). John and Andrew followed Jesus who unexpectedly asked them “what are you searching for?” and they responded “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (Jn 1:38).
Here we have the third symptom:
Do you have a desire in your heart that is never fulfilled? You may have matured, graduated, found a good job with a promising career, got engaged but somehow it is not enough! Alternatively, you may have experienced some form of shock in your life, a failure in something, a dissapointment and so you feel the need to change your life. You feel almost intuitively that you should change direction because you are missing something or Someone. Therefore, Jesus’ addresses this question to you, “what are you searching for?”. You must respond “Master, where do you live?”. Jesus invited John and Andrew to “come and see”. They went to His home and stayed with Him that day. That meeting was so important that John still remembered it while writing his Gospel at 80 years of age as he wrote “it was four in the afternoon” (Jn 1:39).
Therefore, we have the fourth symptom:
This symptom manifests itself before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When you spend time with the Lord, in His house, do you feel that He looks upon you with love? Do you hear His words “come and see”? Your thoughts start to wonder to that community that you have met, the fact that it feels somehow like your home…. You are unable to forget that hour when you first met them.
The fifth symptom:
The fifth symptom of a vocation is the desire to tell everyone “I have met the Lord”. It seems as if you have found the answer to all human suffering – everyone must meet Jesus! You are just like St Andrew who told his brother, St Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41-42).
Every vocation is unique and unexpected. If you read your life story with eyes of faith, you will discover other symptoms of this “Strange Illness” that one calls a vocation.