If you pay peanuts, as they say, you get monkeys.
It is a cynical view, but one with a lot of truth in it. If you are employed by someone else, then you expect a proper reward. When the situation is not so good, then commitment falls considerably. When you work for someone else, you may take pride in your work, but fundamentally, at the end of the day you can walk away.
On the other hand, if it is your own business, your own idea, your own vision, you are highly motivated. You want it to succeed. You work long hours. You will even work for peanuts. Your commitment is entirely different.
In the Gospel this weekend, Jesus hits on this very point. The hired man runs away when confronted with danger - the good shepherd cares for his sheep. You could say it is the parable of self-employment, or the small business. But it is also the parable of vocation.
Because there are times when in a job our commitment is not like that of the hired man. When we are doing something which gives us a sense of vision and purpose, When we are caring for others, When we are sharing our skills or our knowledge: in all these situations we may work outside hours, for little or no pay, because we are committed to what we do. It is no longer a job given by someone else, but a job owned by us. And it is owned by us because it is an answer to the call of God within in. It fulfils us not so much because we have chosen it, but because it has chosen us.
And this is what Vocation is all about.
A job may be given to us by another human being, but a vocation is given us by God. And the trouble is we follow the devices and desires of our own hearts (some readers may recognise the phrase), rather than listening to God.
This Sunday, Easter Four, what we call Good Shepherd Sunday, is the day when we pray for Vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life. We pray that our hearts may be open to the voice of God, and that men and women may respond to God’s call to service. Pray for vocations. Pray for priests. Pray that men and women may hear the voice of God, and respond to it.
This is adapted from my Sunday Homily: more homilies here.