That joyful encounter with the Lord, says Francis, is the first step to discovering what we’re meant to do in life.
“[One’s vocation] can be discovered in various ways,” he says, “but … the first indicator is the joy of an encounter with Jesus.
“Marriage, consecrated life, priesthood — every true vocation begins with an encounter with Jesus who gives us joy and new hope.”
The pope offered this reflection today at the general audience, as he considered the Gospel account of John and Andrew meeting Jesus for the first time.
Jesus guides us — “even through tests and difficulties, to an encounter that is ever more fulfilling … an encounter with him and the fullness of joy,” the pope assured.
Francis said that Jesus doesn’t want “men and women who follow after him reluctantly, without the breath of happiness in their hearts.”
Instead, he said, “Jesus wants people who have experienced that to be with him gives us an immense happiness, that can be renewed every day of life.”
Thus a Christian should do what the Virgin Mary did, the Holy Father suggested. He should “safeguard the flame of his falling in love, in love with Jesus.”
“Sure,” he said, “there are struggles in life. There are moments when you have to go forward despite the cold and the headwinds, despite so many difficulties. But Christians know the path that leads to that sacred fire that has enkindled them once and for all.”
Pope Francis also offered this advice:
Don’t listen to people who are disillusioned and unhappy. Don’t listen to someone who cynically recommends that we don’t cultivate hope in this life. Let us not trust in someone who immediately shuts down any enthusiasm, saying that no undertaking is worth the sacrifice of one’s whole life. Let us not listen to those with “old” hearts who suffocate youthful euphoria. Let us go to the aged who have eyes sparkling with hope. … God wants us capable of dreaming like him and with him, even as we stay very attentive to the reality around us. To dream of a different world. And if our dreams snuff out, to start dreaming again, going back with hope to the memory of the beginnings, to those embers that, perhaps after a life that hasn’t been so good, are hidden beneath the ashes of the first encounter with Jesus.
You can read a full provisional translation of the audience here.
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