Retirement from any job, profession or career can be a life-changing event. There has been much talk about the emptiness that some retirees experience after a lifetime career, as well as the busy-ness that others, in the same situation, find themselves in. I guess it all depends on what the retired person decides to do with their new found time. Some prefer to sit on their back porch and read a good book while others prefer involving themselves in the many other likes and passions of life that they were unable to engage in while working full time.
And all of them, regardless of their decision or choice, are good, worthy and valid. But having recently retired myself, I can tell you, even though my retired days have only been recent and therefore short term, that there is always one experience that every retired woman and man should continue to promote.
I am a retired pastor, a man who has loved and served the Lord Jesus for 25 professional years, and for more of the 64 that I have so far lived on this earth. And that’s the element and aspect and experience of life that nobody, nobody who is Christian anyhow, should ever relinquish.
The Catholic Church that I subscribe to makes mention of vocations. Other Christian denominations might refer to callings. But either/or, all of us, even non-Christians who because they are non-Christians might not even be at all aware of God’s presence in their life, were created and called by God Himself to a singular and purposeful vocation in the life He has given to them.
There is the single vocation, where for some reason that might only be known to God, the person called to it, remains single, by choice or circumstance. There is the married vocation, to which a man and a woman are, as Scripture states it, to leave their mother and father and become one flesh.
And there is the ordained vocation, in which a person (male or female, depending on the particular denomination to which someone belongs) is to serve the Body and Church of Christ as a minister, a pastor, a priest, etc.
But there is a wider calling, a higher vocation that every person on the earth is obligated to profess and that is the call of evangelization and discipleship. It’s the call of Christ that we have come to know as the Great Commission. From the very last words of St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 28, verse 19, Jesus said to the 11 remaining disciples (Judas had left and neither Matthias nor Paul had yet been chosen), to the Apostles, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
So there it is. There you have it. This is a message for those who are retired, and find themselves with too much time on their hands, or can’t seem to find any free time, for those who are not yet retired, but realize that even in the midst of their still active careers, they have another calling, and in fact, for every person who lives and walks this earth.
OK, so I’m retired. It’s only been a month or so since. But if these past days are any indication of the future that God has in mind and store for me, they will be days filled with the primary vocation to all of us.
Sure, I don’t minister in the same exact way that I did in more active ministry – I don’t say Mass every day, I don’t have the level of administration that I used, I don’t have as much opportunity to counsel, but I have not had all that much time to spare either. Because retirement does not mean the end of ministry. Ministry is a life long, and life giving, call. A day to day, 24/7, vocation.
And it’s proving to be just as rewarding as those previous professional ordained days, as those 25 years I mentioned earlier. So, don’t hear me. Hear Jesus.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all.”
It takes the whole Body to make the Church. It takes the whole world to bring each and every person to Christ. Enjoy it.