As a senior at Xavier I wrote an opinion article for the student newspaper about why we shouldn’t ask seniors what they were doing next year, but rather how they are doing in their senior year. The irony is that I have spent almost two and a half years since then working with students, and myself, to answer the question: what is next? What is my vocation?
The disciples should consider themselves lucky—they do not have to discern their vocation. Jesus tells them bluntly, “go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” As scary as the work of determining one’s vocation is, living it out is the real daunting work. Vocations often sound great in theory, but are much more difficult to live out.
The disciples seem eager and willing to follow their vocation but they have things they feel they must do first. First, they must bury their dead and say goodbye to their families. These seem to be reasonable requests, but Jesus rejects them all. He tells his followers that they can not look at the past, but must look forward and proclaim the kingdom. Jesus wants his followers to be completely devoted to their mission.
We are each called as unique individuals to our own vocation, with its own challenges and consolations. Whatever that vocation is, Jesus calls us to commit ourselves to that mission, to be “all-in.” There will always be alternate paths that present themselves. They may even be holy things, like burying our dead or saying goodbye to family. Through good discernment, we must stay committed to our vocation, our path to proclaiming the kingdom of God.
When this discernment gets hard, and I feel desolation slipping in, I can find comfort in the words of Thomas Merton, “Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.”
Miles Tiemeyer is a graduate of Xavier University (2020), where he studied in the Philosophy, Politics, and the Public program along with majors in political science and history. During undergrad, he was involved in social justice and political advocacy through his work in the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice. After graduating from Xavier, he served a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Houston, Texas at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston. Currently, Miles is resident minister and graduate assistant for John Carroll University Campus Ministry while studying for his masters in theology and religious studies.