The universal call to the apostolate

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

YES, just as there is the universal call to holiness, there is also the universal call to the apostolate. This is what is to be an authentic Christian. No one can be a true Christian if he fails to pursue this dual goal of holiness and apostolate. In a way, we can say that a Christian is both a saint and an apostle.

We are somehow reminded of this truth of our faith in that gospel episode of the call of Matthew to be one of the apostles. (cfr. Mt 9,9-13) As the gospel narrates, Christ was just passing by a certain place when he saw Matthew at the customs post. He just told Matthew to follow him, and, wonder of wonders, Matthew just stood up and followed him!

We do not exactly know the dynamics of how this event came about, but for sure there must have been the interplay of God’s grace and human freedom. That Matthew followed Christ, despite being regarded at that time as a sinner for being a tax collector, clearly shows that anyone, and in fact, everyone can be called by Christ to follow him.

To be sure, everyone of us has a vocation to holiness and to the apostolate. God calls all of us to be with him. He invites us to share his life and his work. We are all co-operators of his abiding providence. That’s why we are told that we have to “listen to him.” He always intervenes in our life. We just have to learn how to hear him and work with him.

This is what vocation is all about—living and working with God. Everyone’s vocation has been forged from all eternity, and we too have been wired for that. That’s why we have been created with intelligence and will. Besides, God gives us his grace, so we can live with him in a supernatural way. We can and should enter into a living relation with God.

Thus, it behooves all of us to develop a sense of vocation in our life. We need to exert the effort to know God and his will more and more by praying, meditating on the gospel and his doctrine, now taught by the Church, fulfilling the usual duties we have which are part of God’s will, etc.

The universal call to the apostolate stems from the basic human need of ours to be concerned always with everybody else. As persons, we are not meant to be by ourselves. We are meant to be always in relation with the others. And that relation should be one that is good and helpful to one.

And from the human need to be good and helpful to everyone, we are asked to elevate that concern to the supernatural level where we can be with God. That means that our relation with others should not just remain in the human and natural level, but should be developed in view of our common supernatural goal to be with God, to be holy and truly love with one another as Christ himself as loved us. (cfr. Jn 13,34)

We need to train ourselves to be apostolic all the time. We have to realize that if we simply are aware of this universal call to the apostolate, everything in our life can and should be an occasion to do apostolate. Even when we are isolated, we can still do apostolate by simply praying and offering sacrifices for the others, etc.