"It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, 'We have found the Messiah,' which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,' which is translated Peter.” – Jn. 1:39-42

When I read today's Gospel, I think about an invitation I received two years ago to a "retreat that's good for your heart." It was an invitation to Caritas Retreat 35.

When we find something of great value, we naturally want to share that with other people. My friend who invited me to Caritas was like Andrew to Simon. Andrew found the Messiah and brought Simon to Jesus. Before Caritas, I was emotionally drained from a dream that did not work out. At Caritas, I asked, what is it, at the core, that I am searching for? It was and still is genuine love.

I felt a void in my heart and I've tried to fill that gap with a bunch of things I like: sophisticated places with the perfect ambiance, TV, friends, travel... and other things I am not proud to say. Yet at the end of the day, I was still restless. It seems to me that I was looking for "life" everywhere but God, the author of Life and life to the full (John 10:10).

Today's Gospel reminds me that our Lord invites us to walk close to him. He is not easily satisfied with a "long distance relationship" with us. He wants to walk with us... and when we walk closely to Him, we are more attentive to the needs of others. We can find an ease in our walk with our brothers and sisters. It is like how my friend journeys with me from hurt to wholeness in the Lord through Christus Ministries and Caritas family.

I found that walking with God does not numb me to suffering. Instead, Christ inspires me and draws me to work with him as an ambassador of His mercy. I have learned that God's mercy and our darkness are two sides of the same coin. Many men and women of faith discover thei calling and purpose at the foot of the cross. In fact, it is in darkness that light can come bursting in (Psalm 112:4).

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was blessed financially and also in her marriage. Everything seemed fine until storms hit her life: bankruptcy, her husband's death, uncertainty, and loneliness. She carried her cross with Christ and she kept going. One of the many fruits of her walk with God was the first Catholic school in Americ (and have personally enefitted from the ripple effects of her work).

noticed that when our Lord calls us, He transcend our calling and our impact. St. Elizabeth was not only a mother of her own children but she's been the spiritual mother of many. Simon, the fisherman, became a "fisher of men" (Matthew 4:19). Simon Peter who arguably can be considered impulsive and rash became a rock where Christ built his church (John 18:10-11, Matthew 16:18).

The journey of figuring out and living out one's calling and purpose is a journey of a lifetime. Some days are sunny and smooth sailing. Others, we wrestle in prayer through many long nights. It is comforting to know that His side is our home. He welcomes us anytime to walk with him, to follow Him closely, and discover our Belovedness.

Gabriella Karina