The Jonah Complex: A Force to be Reckoned 

What is a vocation? It is the place God calls us donate ourselves toward something larger than ourselves. In the words of St. John Paul the Great, it is “total self gift.” How do we find the place where we give the most and receive the most in return? We must take time to discern, that is to prayerfully weigh the greatest decision of our lives. Should we fail to take the time to discover our vocation, then the currents of life will inevitably decide for us. And this is where Jonah gives us a great life lesson.
Jonah ran from his vocation, all the way to Tarshish. He felt resistance which is not necessarily a bad thing. Resistance can indicate a very important life transition. Jonah had a vocation and call to be a prophet in Nineveh so he ran 180 degrees in the opposite direction, as far west as he could go. Jonah was sleeping in the belly of the boat bound for Tarshish while all those around him were in chaos. The captain and crew of the boat were in turmoil. (Jonah 1:3-5) Our failure to follow our vocation can bring turmoil upon ourselves and others around us. We can put off this great calling from God, but a higher calling toward a vocation is not something to be ignored.
There is a great scene in the movie “Star Wars: the Force Awakens” when the protagonist Rey first touches the lightsaber and has a scary flashback. Rey who is a natural when compared to other Jedi Knights senses a mission that is larger than herself. A prophetic woman named Maz Kanata wants Rey to follow her true calling and pick up the lightsaber. Rey is reluctant and resists her call and flees to an evergreen forest. But this vocational calling is too big to flee, and her new friend Finn rescues her with the same lightsaber in hand, and gives her the encouragement to follower her “destiny.” The secret message to pursue a vocation is … we can’t do it alone, often we rely upon our friends and family to push us and guide us through difficult decisions.


When we take the easy option it is rarely the right choice. The comfortable path lures us into the “lazy boy” Gospel and we nap through challenges in our comfy easy chair. The Gospel of Christ is one of discomfort. There is nothing comfortable about carrying a cross. It requires us to confront our resistance, to freely give ourselves away, and to pick up a cross custom made for our shoulders. Jesus encourages us to follow our vocation, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:30) and with our free will we pick it up and carry it. To follow Christ is not a Gospel of easiness, it is a Gospel of queasiness. It is that nervous tightness in our throat or tickle in our belly that makes a person unsettled, queasy, and afraid to go out and act. Your vocation moves you toward the challenging path, not the easy path. We know in the depths of our hearts that our vocation is the place we will gain the most, and potentially risk the most, and have the most at stake. St Paul taught us this on the road to Damascus, St Francis of Assisi taught us this when he prayed before the crucifix, St Clare of Assisi taught us this through her tenacious hold to absolute poverty in order to govern her religious community of nuns.

Your vocation is the one thing that will challenge the most of you, it will demand all the courage you can muster, and it will also pay out the greatest rewards. Affirmations surface in the form of joy and peace that fill a seeker’s heart, these are signs that you have found your vocation. If you have bitterness and resentment, these are signs that God may have something else in store for you. Where has God led you today? What holds the greatest joy for you? What produces the greatest sense of fulfillment and excitement? I tell you this is where your vocation lies and where God calls you today. Do not let the easy chair Gospel lull you into a lazy snooze, today is time to pursue our God-driven vocation. Jonah sailed away on a ship bound for Tarshish and God brought him back to the shores of Nineveh for a do-over. We are all traveling on a providential ship bound for our holy vocation. We can settle in a belly of a ship of our own making, or in the belly of a fish of God’s own making. Which way is your vessel traveling, towards God or away?

5G Network

5G Transmitter
Metal antenna symbol with letters 5G on white

Cell phones are all the rage nowadays. So many people have them for good communication. We appreciate the 3G network, 4G network, and now 5G network. I’m not sure how they work exactly but I know they facilitate communication in more places throughout the globe and with stronger signals, therefore less dropped calls. When you have a strong network your good conversations will not be interrupted by a disconnected drop. If people discern well they must tap into God’s 5G network. This network allows for 5 key points of discernment, tuning our ears to God’s personal call for you. Good Godly communication requires these elements of the 5G network:

1. Grab a Bible

We need the daily word of God interacting in our lives to allow opportunities for God to speak to our hearts. St. Augustine began his discernment when he heard children on a playground singing a rhyme that said, “pick it up and read it.” And so Augustine picked up the book next to him and began to read the Bible. We need to give God the opportunity to draw us to him, and pick up the Bible and read it.

2. Go to mass

The Conventual mass has been a staple of Franciscan religious life for centuries. It is the community mass for the brother-friars and priest-friars. Friars have the advantage of the Sacrament of Eucharist every day and this gives God the opportunity to grant graces to us. And who could not do without additional graces? Regular opportunities to attend mass beyond the Sunday obligation is a fitting way to enrich your communication with God.

3. Go to confession

Regular confession frees the heart of past sins and allows one to pursue the thing that delights the soul. For each person the path of a vocation call is a different one, but first we loose the burdensome baggage of past sins and give ourselves over completely to the one who pursues us. Like the hound of heaven, the lapping love dog can not be dismissed or shaken from pursuit and at some point requires a response. We respond to the Lord’s love through confession, and even further is the enriching counsel of a spiritual director.

4. Gaze at the Lord in Adoration

Adoration is the meeting of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. St Francis of Assisi would often be taken up by Adoration and in his own words, “Oh Sublime Humility, Oh Humble Sublimity” Meaning God so humbled himself to be one of us, yet he was exalted in the highest heights of heaven, and he bent low to be human just like us. What an awesome dignity God showed us of humanity, and wonderful affirmation of all the things that make us human.

5. Glorify God by your lives

We are invited to represent God well by the testimony of our lives. That all we do, all we think of, all we dream about, everything that pulls on our heart will glorify God. “God has called us out of darkness into his own marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9.)” And we glorify God by the brightness of our life basking in that light.

 

When we tie these 5G’s together it makes for good communication with God, an open heart to discern God’s holy will for us, and clarification of just what God’s call is for us. Given the strength of God’s 5G network, we will have a clear signal toward our life’s direction, and we will suffer no more dropped calls.