If we fail in this journey we must repeat it until we succeed. Only by embracing the vocation God has called each of us to, will we truly know happiness in this world.
The ancient story of Odysseus is a pattern for our lifelong spiritual journey.
Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, is called to War. Although he resists at first he eventually embraces the call.
Jesus is calling each of us. Each of us is given a unique set of gifts, to complete a specific vocation. Do we resist the Call?
We may spend much of our lives trying to discern our vocation. But like Odysseus we have helpers and mentors who assist us in discerning our calling, and stay with us on the journey.
After the War Odysseus attempts to sail home. But his journey is filled with trials and tests.
When we have discerned our calling, the next phase of our journey is one of formation. We take the skills God had given us and add to them the knowledge we need to fully realize the vocation God has called us to. We will meet dangers, suffer setbacks, and face giants and dragons of the mind, attempting to keep us from our goal. God may send us trials to test us and strengthen us, the devil may send obstacles to trip us up and divert us from our path.
Finally Odysseus returns home where he faces a final test. He must drive out the men who presumed he was dead and pressured his wife, the queen, into remarrying.
Just when we think we are ready to take up our vocation we face a final test. The Adversary may make a final assault on our will. Do we go forward, and take up our vocation, or do we slide back into our old ways and ignore our calling?
Odysseus is reunited with his wife and his son and rules once more as king of Ithaca. But he is changed by his adventures and returns a wiser king, able to rule and govern more effectively.
When we have discerned our call, and allowed God to form us, we are at last ready to take up the vocation God has called us to. We move from the realm of the spirit back to the physical world we started in. But we are changed and transformed.
We bring back with us the wisdom and experience to help others answer their own call and find their own place in the world.
Like Odysseus each of us is on a journey back to our Father’s house and it is only there that we will know true, lasting, authentic happiness.
Jesus constantly reminds us that our life here is only the path, not the destination. And that path offers many dangers and distractions to divert us from reaching our destination. Even finding our vocation is not the end, it is merely the vehicle God has prepared for us to travel in and help others along the way.
Our journey takes us through the darkness in search of the light. The Advent candle symbolizes this. It is a light that drives back the darkness. This is what each of us is called to be.
1st Sunday of Advent
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com