78250-show-65737A few weeks ago, as I was flipping through the channels on my tv, I stumbled across an episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show. For those who are not familiar, Jim Gaffigan is a stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Gaffigan’s fatherhood, family, and food centered comedy routines, but perhaps I’m a little biased because Jim, his wife Jeannie, and their five children, are practicing, devout, and outspoken Catholics; a theme that Gaffigan often works seamlessly (and hilariously) into his comedy.

Everyone has a calling

Now I’ll admit that while I’m a big fan of Jim Gaffigan and his comedy specials (which include Grammy nominated Mr. Universe and Obsessed) I had not heard of his original sitcom. Excited and curious I began to watch the first episode of the second season entitled “The Calling” and what ensued was essentially a thirty minute vocations promo video. In the episode, Jim learns that his local parish priest, Fr. Nicholas (played by Tongayi Chirisa), turned down a professional soccer, modeling, and business career in order to live a life of service to others and to God by becoming a Catholic priest. Fr. Nicholas justifies his actions to an astounded Jim by simply explaining that “he had a calling.” Fr. Nicholas goes on to explain that everyone (even Jim) has a calling to serve in one way or another.  This thought is reinforced by Jim’s wife, Jeannie (played by Ashley Williams), who reiterates that “everyone has a calling, you just have to listen to it.” 

Jim’s Calling

In the midst of all of this, Jim begins to consider the possibility that he may have missed his calling. After seeking advice from his friends (and after being visited by Jerry Seinfeld in a dream) Jim believes that his calling is to be a stand-up comedian. The episode concludes with Jim interacting with St. Peter at the gates of heaven where St. Peter regretfully informs Jim that he is “in the wrong line” because he didn’t follow his calling. Confused, Jim assures St. Peter that he did; that being a stand-up comedian was his calling. St. Peter sternly responds to Jim saying that his true calling was to “be a good father.”

The Reality of our Vocation

Jim, like so many people, failed to understand the reality of his own vocation. Time and time again throughout the episode Jim expresses his certitude that his calling was supposed to change the world or peoples lives in some great way. Jim ignores his wife Jeannie and Fr. Nicholas who both suggest to him that maybe his calling was, and still is, to be a father. Jim shrugs this suggestion off by saying that fathers are like “the vice-president of the family,” implying that fathers don’t make any real impact in the world. The fact of the matter is, however, that fathers, along side mothers, can impact the world in the greatest but most humble of ways. By raising children in the faith, mothers and fathers are advancing the kingdom of God by planting seeds that will one day yield a great harvest. The world does not need another Mother Teresa, or Fulton Sheen, or John Paul II; the world needs you. The world needs you to embrace the reality of your vocation faithfully and humbly.

So what now?

J.R.R. Tolkien said “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” How will we decide to spend the time that is given to us by God? Will we, like Jim, decide to ignore the calling that is right in front of us? Or will we be open to God’s call and respond generously?

At a recent commencement address at the Catholic University of America Jim Gaffigan proposed this thought,

“What if career accomplishment is not the answer? Maybe marriage isn’t about giving up freedom. Maybe faith in something isn’t naive. Maybe putting others first isn’t weakness. Maybe guacamole could be sold through the mail…Remember, happiness is not found in accomplishments, income or the number of twitter followers you have. True happiness is found in family, living for each other, sacrificing together, and enjoying the blessings of fresh guacamole delivered promptly to your door.”

May God bless you in your discernment to discover your vocation and may God give you the grace to live out your vocation so that you may change the world one person at a time.