Grace to you!
As we celebrate the 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I will reflect on the Lord’s words in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
This passage reminds me of a contemporary story about a woman who went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and observed how the sheep and the shepherds in Bethlehem interacted. She watched the shepherds put their respective flocks in the same cave—the sheep intermingling with each other. Wondering how the shepherds would separate this sea of sheep, she rose early the next morning to observe. She watched while one of the shepherds walked some distance from the cave and with a unique voice, beckoned on his sheep. They ran out to him. The sheep knew the shepherd’s voice. Together, shepherd and sheep went on their way.
Hearing the voice of the Shepherd (Christ) involves the acts of hearing, listening, believing and doing. It is a progression from mere sensory function to moral and spiritual transformation. In theological terms, it’s the obedience of faith. Many are models in this. From Abraham the father of faith, to every person in our communities who shine the light of Christ for everyone to see.
The process of hearing can come through different ways such as direct reading of the Word of God at Liturgy or privately and being disposed to hear. It could also occur accidentally; those moments when we weren’t expecting it. Such was the way St. Augustine received the Word in Millan. It was also the case with Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) when she was gripped by the power of the Word and declared: “This is the truth.” St. Ignatius of Loyola received the Word in unexpected ways too. When there were no more erotic books available for him to read while he was recouping from his leg surgery in 1521, he read the De Vita Christi, by Ludolph of Saxony. The book introduced him to contemplating the life of Jesus in Scripture.
It is a blessing to put ourselves in the “Zone of the Word of God.”Hearing God’s Word builds our family. It nurtures vocation. It is grace-filling. The essential aspect of this “zone” is in the worshipping community, the Church, the Body of Christ.
“The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation, which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, he bestows on us a specific vocation. The vocational journey is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to us: it is a con-vocation” (Pope Francis, Message on the Occasion of the 53rdWorld Day of Prayer for Vocations).
Ask yourself: Do you as a family create time to reflect on God’s Word and learn from Scripture? How often do you share the message contained in the Sunday readings or reflect on the Sunday message as a family? What kind of words do you share together, the music and the message with which you entertain yourself? I remember growing up as a child and listening to my parents share their understanding of the Sunday readings. Those moments helped nurture my faith.
I will stretch the act of hearing further by stressing listening. Listening has to do with paying attention to what we hear. Some may hear and not pay attention to what is heard. Listening is a choice. It is an act inspired by the desire to know and to understand. It is important we pay attention to the Word of God because in it there is life. What we listen to may well impact what we believe.
Believing what we hear is crucial as well. It is welcoming the Word we hear and allowing it to be the center of our life. It is making the Word take flesh. This is not just a question of intellectual acceptance, but also a lived experience.
There is transforming power in the Word of God. By believing God’s Word, we make ourselves beneficiaries of its transforming power. You cannot believe the Word of God without it having an impact in your life. When one truly believes, one acts. One casts the nets for harvest. Its then the person discovers one’s unique call and live it out.
Let me end with this powerful word from Pope Francis: The Lord’s call“is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking. He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch.” (2019 World Day of Prayer for Vocations). Say yes to this divine opportunity for abundant harvest.
Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, give me grace to discover my vocation, and when I do, the right-disposition to say, “yes” and follow through. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.