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A vocation to friendship

Albert Camus was a French philosopher (and many other things). He was the recipient of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44, being the second-youngest recipient in the history of the prize. He wrote, on friendship: “Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow, don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me, just be my friend.

“Friend” and, “friendship” are words that we use freely. Facebook commoditised the word such that, now we can all now have hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of “friends” and not even know most of them!

Albert Camus understood friendship in a very different way to Mark Zuckerberg and implies an equality that is central to what it is to be a friend. Fr Kieran, in his reflection that has been inspired by the Gospel on Good Shepherd Sunday, looks at the vocation of friendship, the call to be a friend. It is more than knowing, it is something intimate in its depth. Indeed, Aristotle said: “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” And Jesus told his disciples that, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends.

In his earlier reflection, Kieran wrote of how there is a difference between what we are called to do and who we are called to be and it is in the latter that we find vocation. How true indeed, therefore, is it that friendship must be called a vocation?

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Good Shepherd Sunday

On the fourth Sunday of Easter every year, we hear the story of The Good Shepherd and since 1963 when St Pope Paul VI instituted it, it is also celebrated as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations or more usually, Vocations Sunday.

It is no surprise, therefore, the Fr Kieran takes a deeper look at what is vocation. Of course, Pope Paul VI, when he instituted this day, had in mind vocation to the priesthood or religious life. In his reflection, Kieran examines the broader view of vocation, differentiating between who we are, and what we do. And if vocation is about who we are, then who are we called to be?

In answer, Kieran tells us that we need look no further than seeing who Jesus is meant to be, which is to be the Son of God. Our calling, at its core, is to be family: “It is what we are in first place, for to be a child of a parent is not to do something, but to be the recipient of an unconditional, tender, gracious love. It makes us who we are, potential unconditional lovers of others, beginning with our natural family but then extending to our church family through Baptism.”

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