Sunday, May 15, 2011

I am the gate


4th Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations

15 May 2011

St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center

Amen, Amen I say to you. I am the gate for the sheep.

I am the gate for the sheep. We more familiarly know Jesus to be the good shepherd, and indeed he is. But in today's passage he repeats twice with emphasis that he is the gate. Anyone who does not use the gate, but climbs over the fence, is a thief and a robber.

Those who are called on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations to help Jesus shepherd his flock, especially those priests who long one day to be called a pastor, one who gathers God's family together, must pass through the gate that is Jesus. Jesus promised to be with his Church most perfectly through the gift of the Eucharist, so the Eucharist can be considered the gate through which a priest must come and go. A priest can be simply defined as a man who is always either celebrating the Eucharist or bringing people to the Eucharist. If this is true of a priest, then his vocation is authentic. He is a good shepherd. If this is not true, he is a thief and a robber.

The Eucharist is the gate through which every Catholic Christian comes and goes. To be sure, through the action of the Holy Spirit each one of us has a radically unique relationship with Jesus, which means that each of us is called by him to a vocation that is ours and no one else's. Yet to make sure that we are following Jesus' voice and not our own voice, we must follow him together. The Eucharist is the gate through which we come and go. The less our vocation is filtered through the gate of the Eucharist, the greater the chance that we are being led by thieves and robbers.

Whatever we feel called to do in life, must make sense in relation to Jesus' voice as we hear it at Mass, where the good shepherd is always giving his life for the sheep. Whatever I have decided to do with my life, must be able to be confirmed and deepened by Jesus' voice as we hear it at the consecration - this is my body, broken for you. This is my blood poured out for you.

It is often said that the moment after receiving the Eucharist is the best moment for discerning one's vocation. For it is at this moment that we are most inclined to hear Jesus' voice not with fear - not as do this because I told you so, or do that, or else - but with trust. We fear Jesus' voice when our pride tells us that Jesus cannot know us as well as we know ourselves, when our selfishness tells us that it would be foolish to turn any decisions over to him. We trust Jesus' voice when we realize he only desires to free us to be what we have always wanted to be, and to live a life of love that is measured by the beauty of his glorious cross. May Jesus then, fully present in the Eucharist, be the gate by which we come and go through life, and arrive at the true discernment of the vocation he has given to us, and to no one else.

Amen, Amen I say to you. I am the gate for the sheep.

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