Discerning a vocation is not simply about ‘choosing this or that way of life,’ Pope Francis says in his message for the 2022 World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It is instead about ‘making God’s dream come true’ for humanity.

In a world facing many challenges, notably war and cultural and political polarisation, the variety of vocations within the Church witnesses to the beautiful harmony and diversity of God’s gifts, and that the ‘Church as a whole is an evangelising community,’ he says.

The divine Sculptor

The pontiff references the famous words of the artist Michelangelo, who reportedly said that every block of stone has a statue within it; his job was simply to carve away everything that was not the statue. ‘If that is true of an artist, how much more is it true of God!’ Pope Francis says.

In the young woman of Nazareth he saw the Mother of God. In Simon the fisherman he saw Peter, the rock on which he would build his Church. In the publican Levi he recognized the apostle and evangelist Matthew, and in Saul, a harsh persecutor of Christians, he saw Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. God’s loving gaze always meets us, touches us, sets us free and transforms us, making us into new persons.

In each and every person, God ‘sees a certain potential,’ even when we ourselves cannot see it. ‘Vocation arises in this way, thanks to the art of the divine Sculptor,’ he says, ‘who uses his “hands” to make us go forth from ourselves and become the masterpiece that we are called to be.’

Responding to the gaze of Jesus

The God who sees in every sinner a saint is the God who looks upon us with a gaze that is ‘loving and creative’. It rests on each one of us, the pope says, and we must learn to ‘allow ourselves be moved by this gaze.’

Our lives change when we welcome this gaze. Everything becomes a vocational dialogue between ourselves and the Lord, but also between ourselves and others. A dialogue that, experienced in depth, makes us become ever more who we are.

Fraternity in a polarised world

In a world that is increasingly polarised, the call on the Church today is to build fraternity. Vocation is not for the individual only but always for others: ‘We are like tiles of a mosaic,’ Pope Francis says. ‘Each is lovely in itself, but only when they are put together do they form a picture. Each of us shines like a star in the heart of God and in the firmament of the universe.’

This is why discerning a vocation is not simply about ‘choosing this or that way of life,’ but about ‘making God’s dream come true’—the dream of a human race united in love under the Father.

Each of our vocations is meant to ‘form constellations that can guide and light up the path of humanity, beginning with the places in which we live.’

Vocations Awareness Week is celebrated from 7 to 14 August in 2022.