Sunday May 3, 2020
Dear Followers of the Shepherd,
I am easily lost. I get caught in thickets of self-doubt and fear. I stumble on my own egocentric paths. The path to Jesus is not always easily discernible. Sometimes I stray. Sometimes I don’t really want to be found.
However, Jesus desires us, even me. This is revealed to us every year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. It is commonly called, Good Shepherd Sunday. Sometimes it is an opportunity to speak about vocations to religious life and priesthood. I believe it is an opportunity to remind us all that Jesus truly desires us, no matter how far we are from him and from our own lives and vocations.
Today’s gospel, John 10:1-10, invites us to view Jesus as the source of life once again. Jesus speaks and we listen. Jesus invites and we enter the gate. Jesus challenges and we, too, lay down our lives. We do so because we know we cannot live faith and integrity on our own efforts. We get lost in self-aggrandizement. We get lost in comparing our lives to others and that is always a place of death. Comparing our lives to others is the end of the spiritual journey, according to many of the saints. Fear clenches our jaws and then we are unable to speak the truth. Pride raises its voice and then we can no longer listen to the voice of the Shepherd.
We are followers of the Risen Christ. So often we forget this identity. We easily forget who we are when life takes us through gates of entrapment. We get lost in alcohol. We find food our home. We get lost among bling and stuff. We hoard and stuff our emotions. We get lost in playing games on our phones when others need our attention. To find out who we are and whose we are is not easy. This is what Easter is all about.
In our times apart from community prayer, how do we listen to God? How do we search for God who searches for us? One of the ways this happens is to learn how to be alone. I don’t mean to be lonely, but to transform our alone time into a time of prayer and intimacy. Many people do not know themselves well. We get lost in false motivations and we can’t find our way through the emotional hurts of the past. We speak from pain that we have been holding since childhood. We act out and react to events and people inappropriately because we were never affirmed as young people. Resistance to God is real. Resistance to self-knowledge that only God reveals is evident in our days and in our society. Praying our lives from our deepest longings and allowing God to examine our circumstances becomes the way in which the Good Shepherd finds us.
Jesus invites us through the gate. The gate is really his passion, death and resurrection. This is called the Paschal Mystery. This is the action, the rhythm of hope for us. Death gives way to life. No doubt. We become caretakers for such a mystery. We have the opportunity to listen to the voice of the Master, the Shepherd we call Good. This is our prayer of longing and our search for intimacy.
In our prayer while we are home, make sure you are creating a space in which to be quiet. This is your opportunity for deeper prayer. This is your place in which to learn how to listen to the Shepherd and to the rhythm of your own life, your own breathing and heartbeat. This is the gate in which Jesus invites us through. Resistance can become a strong shield to God; it can become a wall so high in our lives that we can no longer pray. Jesus invites us into the depths of his longing for us.
Be prepared to listen to the voice of the Shepherd. This voice soothes our silence. This voice is heard among our children and in our care for others in the night. This voice motivates us for the common good and heals our pasts. This voice is freedom and not restriction. This voice is genuine prayer and not rote words. This voice is from the Shepherd in whose life we find our vocations as Christians.
I so desire to be found in him.
God give you peace,