Is your career progressing as you’d like, or are you sensing a need for a change? Career, from the French word for racetrack, can serve us usefully. Wise career choices guide us from schoolt o retirement in a meaningful and sometimes lucrative fashion. Poor career choices can leave us racing in circles. Yet, more important than our career is our vocation. From the Latin verb meaning “to summon,” our vocation is what we are summoned, or called out, to do with our lives. Yesterday we acknowledged that God wants us to enjoy our work. Today we find that our work—what God calls us to do—involves feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the prisoner. The labor God wants us to enjoy is caring for those at the bottom of the social and economic ladder, those who cannot care for themselves. People who hear God’s call and act on it vocationally, regardless of chosen careers, will know the joy of doing God’s will and the peace of living in the kingdom, the state of grace and love, that God has prepared for us. Those of us who refuse to hear God’s call and take action (perhaps because we concentrate too much on our careers) will find life a lot less fun. The words of today’s scripture follow six parables related to living in readiness for the coming of the Son of Man. Perhaps most surprising of all, the judgment does not hinge on confession of faith in Christ but on our vocation of loving care for the least and the lost. The fate of individuals depends on their choices. And those choices carry consequences: “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” May we embrace our call to kingdom living in this new year.

Dear God, in this new year, help us avoid becoming careerist goats. Guide us in our common vocation of caring for the powerless so that we may know the pleasure of your gracious kingdom. Amen.

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