Vocation – God’s Calling of The Person
Discipleship – Radical Vocation – Non-Radical Vocation
Discipleship or Vocation
Although the radical forms of Christian Vocation (hereafter vocation) are to the priesthood and consecrated religious life, other states in life can also be vocation. To understand this fully let’s take a moment to clarify vocation as such; that is to say, as Jesus has given it to us. One would most often say that Jesus calls us to be disciples, and this is certainly true. Disciple, being defined as one who learns from and follows the Master, however, does not give the full connotation of vocation. If we look at two particular Gospel passages we hear Jesus speaking of something that goes beyond discipleship. The first of these is the encounter with the Rich Young Man. (Matt 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-22)
The story of the Rich Young Man is familiar to all of us; he asks Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus says you must obey the commandments. The young man persists in his question by saying “I have done that since my youth.” Then Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and follow me.”
Now in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas we could say that “following Jesus” can take two forms. On the one hand to follow is to learn from the master and go about live your life accordingly, following his teachings, but not necessarily following along in the master’s own life, mission, travels, etc. This first “following” is within the definition of “disciple.” On the other hand “following Jesus” can indeed mean going along with him in his mission, which would be discipleship of a different kind, vocation. Relating this to the story of the Rich Young Man, we can see both types of discipleship offered by Jesus as options for the young man. The first live your life in obedience to the commandments. This is to live a good and moral life, a Christian life. To abandon his personal life and follow Jesus in his mission, is a second option that requires discernment. The first type of disciple is that of a good Christian; the second is the life of vocation, dedicated to the Christian mission.