Pope Francis pointed to the importance of recognizing the “complex relational realities” and varied situations out of which vocations arise.
“It would be almost unrealistic to think that all of you heard the call of God in the midst of families sustained by a strong love and full of values such as generosity, compromise, fidelity and patience,” he said.
While there are some vocations that arise from these situations, “and I pray to God that they are many,” the Pope said, keeping our feet “firmly planted on the ground” means recognizing that our vocational calling brings us closer to the “thread of suffering and bloodshed” that runs throughout the Bible, and which “Colombia knows so well.”
This thread can be seen in Cain's murder of Abel, in the violence in the family of David, the problems within Tobias' family and the lamentations of Job, Francis said, explaining that from the beginning we see how God shows his closeness when he “changes the course of events to call men and women in the frailty of their personal and shared history.”
“Let us not be afraid, in that complex land, for God always brings about the miracle of producing good clusters on the vine,” he said, and prayed that there would be vocations in every community and family of Medellín.
The vine of Christ is true, and truth is essential to the religious call, the Pope continued.
“The poison of lies, obfuscation, manipulation and the abuse of the People of God, the weak and especially the elderly and young, can have no place in our communities,” he said. “They are branches that are determined to dry us out and that God tells us to cut off.”
Francis then noted that God doesn't just cut away the dead branches, but, as the Gospel passage says, he also “purifies the vine of its imperfections.”
“The promise is that we will bear fruit, and abundantly, just like the grain of wheat, if we are able to give ourselves, to offer our lives freely,” he said, and pointed to Colombian saints such as St. Laura Montoya and Bl. Mariano de Jesus Euse Hoyos as examples.
Asking those present how it is that God purifies us of the things that “lead to death and which take hold of our lives and distort his call,” the Pope said the answer is by “inviting us to dwell in him.”
To dwell, he said, “does not only signify being, but rather also indicates maintaining a relationship that is alive, existential and absolutely necessary; it means to live and grow in an intimate and fruitful union with Jesus.”
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This “dwelling” cannot be a merely passive act or simple abandonment without having any consequences in our daily lives, he continued, and offered the religious three ways to make their “dwelling in the Lord” effective.
The first is to touch Christ's humanity, Francis said, which means to look with “the gaze and attitude of Jesus, who contemplates reality not as a judge, but rather as a Good Samaritan; who recognizes the value of the people who walk with him, as well as their wounds and sins.”
It means to imitate Jesus, who looks at people and “discovers their silent suffering and who is moved by peoples’ needs, above all when they are overwhelmed by injustice, inhumane poverty, indifference or by the perverse actions of corruption and violence.”
It also entails embracing Jesus' words and gestures, “which express love for those nearby and search for those far away,” while being both tender and firm in rejecting sin and announcing the Gospel.
The second means of dwelling in the Lord is contemplating Christ's divinity, which requires “awakening and sustaining” studies that increase our knowledge of God, Pope Francis said, adding that priority ought to be given to reading Sacred Scripture.
“Whoever does not know the Scriptures, does not know Jesus. Whoever does not love the Scriptures, does not love Jesus,” he said, and prayed that studying would “help us to interpret reality with the eyes of God, that it may not be a way of avoiding what is happening to our people, nor be subject to the whim of fashions or ideologies.”