Pope Francis reflected on the nature of Christian vocation on Saturday during a meeting with Paraguay’s clergy, religious and seminarians. 

“A person called by God does not show off; he or she does not seek recognition or applause; he or she does not claim to be better than others, standing apart as if on a pedestal,” Pope Francis said.

He pointed to the example of Christ who, though he took on the form of God “did not regard equality with God something to be exploited.”

The Pope encouraged the crowd to also mimic Christ’s life of prayer. He said Jesus achieved perfection “with prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears”.”

“This too is part of our calling,” he said.

“Prayer is the reflection of our love for God, for others and for all creation,” Pope Francis said. “The commandment of love is the greatest way for the missionary disciple to be conformed to Jesus.”

The Pope said prayer puts faith into action; lifting the poor from the dust and turning dry and barren lands into fertile grounds. He said prayer also plays an irreplaceable role in the defense of human life from conception to natural death.

“We are those who fight, speak up and defend the dignity of every human life, from birth to old age, when our years are many and strength fails.”

Pope Francis made his comments Saturday while praying Vespers at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption with Paraguay’s clergy, men and women religious, seminarians and Catholic movements.

“How good it is for all of us to pray Vespers together!” the Pope exclaimed. “How can we not dream of a Church which reflects and echoes the harmony of voices and song in her daily life!”

The Pope said liturgical prayer is an expression of the whole Church striving to conform to Christ, “the great Shepherd of sheep.”

“The beauty of the ecclesial community is born of this union of each of her members to the person of Jesus, creation an “ensemble of vocations” in the richness of harmonic diversity.”

He said Paraguay’s Metropolitan Cathedral, too, is symbolic of the Church at large.

“This Cathedral symbolizes the Church and each of us,” Francis said. “At times, storms from without and within force us to tear down what had been built and to begin again, but always with the hope given us by God.”

“When we look at this building, we can surely say that it has not disappointed the hopes of the Paraguayan people … because God never disappoints!”

Pope Francis then praised Paraguay’s clergy and religious for their collaboration in diocesan pastoral plans and mission. He encouraged them to continue down the path of dialogue and respect for varying vocations and charisms.  

“If our divisions lead to barrenness, then there is no doubt that communion and harmony lead to fruitfulness because they are deeply attuned to the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said.