Saturday, 2 May 2009

Vocations Sunday (Jn 10:11-18)

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, a day for prayer for Vocations. We read in the gospel about the Good Shepherd, how he lies down his life for His sheep. It is very easy to read over it without stopping and pondering what it actually means. Jesus for sure does not take it lightly: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Joh 15:13 RSV) In the short passage he mentions four times that He lays down his life... and he so it is worth thinking about that.

The call to religious life or the priesthood is a call to service: "the Son of man came not to be served but to serve" (Mat 20:28 RSV). We give ourself fully to Christ in His service, we give ourselves completely to Him. But for what?

I guess I can only try and answer that for myself, but I think it is out of complete love. Through my conversion, while I discovered that God is alive and loves us, I found a fountain of life. Not that I became more lively, but I found the fullness of life. Suddenly everything started to make sense. From quite early on I wanted to share this treasure with others, so others would also find this joy in their life...

However, I think this is before I fully started to understand that I only dipped my little toe in the ocean which is God... Even then my heart was on fire with zeal to spread the news, but only over time I discovered there is so much more! |Even more! It is a journey on which God will guide us if we let him. For me that meant that through the experience of love in a relation, God helped me to more and more understand Him. Through this relation I can to a deeper appreciation of what God is: "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8), but especially, what this means.

To start to know God is a process, a journey, as it is as in a relation between a man and a woman. It is a journey into the deep. We start to dip our toe in the ocean first, and then gradually, step by step, walk into the water. We gradually emerge deeper and deeper, sometimes shivering because of either fear or the different temperature, it takes a bit of time to get used to.
Eventually, if we persist, it reaches our neck and we are completely surrounded by the water. It is a process of deepening, slowly discovering what it is, having our being getting adjusted to the new temperature.
Now we are at the point in which we have to make a decisions, are we content with our bath, the joyful experience of the water around us, or do we want to even get deeper into it.
To only way to progress now is to start to swim and leave the firm ground behind us...

Through my relation I discovered what love is, I slowly walked into the water. I discovered the fullness of life by starting to know God, and my understanding deepened in a way through the experience of love. But then there was the point in which one has to start swimming, that there is a call to leave all behind and to put out into the deep. When God is perfect love, then only in God can the fullness of love been found!

I discovered that the reality of the relation with God can become that real that it is even surpassing the experience one can have in earthly relations. From them on I wanted that, I wanted to give myself completely to this, I wanted to give myself completely to Him. It was a moments realization, that this is what I am called for... to lay down my life for my Friend... to leave the firm ground behind, to sell everything and follow Him!

This is not something everybody experiences in this way or is called to off course. Jesus said to the man of whom he cast out the "legion" of demons "Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." (Mar 5:19 RSV). It is a specific calling, not the ordinary, but the extra-ordinary.

However if one is called, it is an call we should answer. It is the call of love, to "sell all that you have [...] and come, follow me" (Lk 18:22 RSV). It is important that we listen to God in order to hear this call. However scary it might be, we should listen to His voice and trust Him. We have to let go and "Put out into the deep" (Lk 5:4 RSV). Whenever we do it, He will guide us, we can be convinced of that, and especially when we misunderstood Him...

This reflection, off course, might not mean anything to you. I guess the point I try to bring across is that in God is found the fullness of love. Everybody is called to this, but some are called in a more direct way. Don't get me wrong, if somebody is called and answers the call it is not suddenly an easy road. All vocations have their difficulties, and possibly one of the difficulties of the religious vocation is that the experience of this love is absent most of the time, but still it is there, and deep down we know that I think... it makes us breath, is makes us sigh, and it makes us want to spread the news... as love diffuses, it wants to share its love...

Total we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, a day dedicated to promotion of vocations. This day marks the end of the year dedicated to prayer for Vocations, in Ireland. The Dominicans have organized different events during the year to support this, being one of the them a day on which Fr. John Harris gave a talk on the Dominican Vocation which can be viewed by following this link . At the mass at 11:30am we will conclude the year... we give thanks to God for the year, and for his blessings.

I guess that the fruits of a year like this will only become apparent over time, as St. Paul tells us "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1Co 3:6 RSV). I think, however, that we can be confident that God notices our labors, hears our prayer and will not disappoints us with the harvest. Regarding the Irish Dominicans, we will see in September... as the traditional day for the reception of the habit of the new Novices is the 14th of September...


RAnn said...

I'd like to invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, a meme, which is a replacement for the Catholic Carnival run by Jay at Living Catholicism for many years, is a place for Catholic bloggers to direct others to their posts and a place for us to meet other Catholic bloggers. Some participants blog exclusively, or almost totally about Catholic topics; others, like me, periodically have such posts. Both are welcome.To participate, go your blog and create a post titled "Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival". In it, summarize and link to at least on of your posts from the last week, which post should have a least a little to do with Catholicism (even if it is just showing off the cute Catholic kid). This week's entry is at If you'd like a weekly reminder to participate, join our yahoogroup at

RAnn said...

of course you can link us directly to your post. However, part of the idea of a meme is to introduce one blog's readers to another. In other words, by making up a special post mentioning Sunday Snippets and linking to it, your readers will find me and the other Sunday Snippets posters--and our readers will find you.


The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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