by Adam Burns
I'm a basketball nut, though I probably watch more basketball now than what I actually play. Throughout my lifetime of basketball fandom I've learned that on both sides of the ball it is a game of gaps. On offense, you try to create a gap between you and your defender, or slip through a gap in the defense. Defensively, the aim is to close the gap between you and the offensive player, or lull the offense towards a gap and pounce when they least expect it. In all cases, you become adept and seeing the whole floor and reading where the gaps are.
As a New Year begins, the challenge is to see the whole of our life and address the gaps in our relationship with God. Vocation, after all, is primarily our response to this relationship. A lot can happen and change in twelve months, so it's important to re-evaluate as part of our on-going discernment. If we aren't discerning, then we neglect to live our Baptismal call, which is to be holy.
That Baptismal call is to live in fulfillment of the dignity we were created with, in a way that builds up the Church and witnesses to the world. The gaps occur when we get caught up in the what, rather than the why; or when we stop reflecting on the call at all.
For myself, working in two faith-based jobs, it's easy to convince myself that I have the gaps covered. But faith (i.e. our relationship with God) is more than our actions, however righteous we think they might be. Discernment is not just about asking "where am I going?" it is also about asking "where am I now?", or even "where is God in all of this?". It's a question for the heart as well as the will.
So how do we address the gaps, and how do we make discernment a daily practice. We begin by looking at how we shape our calling. For example, as a married man I'm called to love and serve my wife. If my work or hobbies or other commitments consistently draw me away from that relationship, I'm not living my vocation. The States of Life are not vocations in and of themselves, but are commitments which shape our lives in a way that helps us respond to our relationship with God.
For many of us, we might also view our job or work as our ministry (and I don't just mean people working in ministry roles, I know many teachers who minister to others through their work ). If this is the case then we constantly need to filter our work - if we're not about the Gospel in our work, then what (or Who) are we working for? In our workplaces (or schools) does our relationship with God permeate through our conduct and actions?
At the end of the day, we are not perfect beings, which is the point. Our world was made good, but is clearly broken. Only in our relationship with God can we restore ourselves and our communities. And so among the resolutions, and new experiences that mark the start of your 2017, may it also be a time for discernment and renewal in your walk with God.