VOCATION SUNDAY/ GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY
Reflection by Bernadine Mmadubuko (Novice with Dominican Sisters, Cabra in S. Africa)
You did not choose me I chose you. (John 15:16)
I remember one of our school counsellors asking us one day in class during my secondary school days; “What do you want to do or be when you grow up?” I can still remember many answers spontaneously coming up from my classmates including myself; I want to be this and I want to be that. Some wanted to be doctors, others lawyers, teachers, accountants, engineers, nurses, to name but few. I think the real question should be, “What does God want me to do or be when I grow up?” This is where discernment of vocation becomes very necessary. We want to become what we feel is good for us, but is that really good for us? The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. We should be careful in choosing what we want to do or be because we did not create ourselves. God made each and every one of us for a purpose.
The book of Jeremiah 1: 5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” Each person is known by God and has a special purpose here on earth. There never has been a person like you neither will there be another person just like you. Besides, we are not here by accident, we were sent for a purpose and it is this purpose that we are celebrating today, Vocation Sunday.
We can only know the purpose of God for us by developing a genuine intimacy with God. This intimacy will lead us to understand God in a unique way. We can be able to hear God by listening to our hearts; in addition to that, we must be able to spend quality time with God in silence. There has to be time when we need to turn off the television, radio, computer, advice-givers and be alone with Him.
In today’s Gospel, John 10 tells us about the relationship between a Good Shepherd, hired shepherd and the sheep; verse 14 says “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.” This is exactly what happens; we know Him who knew us before we were born. It is at such times that we can make informed decisions, not choosing because we want to be like someone or want to be what our parents, siblings and friends want us to be, but what God wants us to be. God definitively will not speak to all of us in the same way. Many people hear their calls as a tiny gentle voice within that refuses to go, others through invitation of others, people saying to us consistently you would make a good religious, a great teacher, a wonderful priest, a doctor and so on. When we hear people saying those things over and over it might be a sign.
Let us not make the mistake of being where we are not meant to be. This breeds lots of problems, frustrations, divorces, unhappiness, committing suicide, restlessness and so on. Some of the signs of knowing our vocations are inner happiness and satisfaction against all odds and challenges wherever we find ourselves. Our brother St. Augustine will say, “… our hearts remain restless until they rest in God.”
As we reflect on the various vocations that God provides for us; the religious life, priesthood, single life and married life, may the Good Shepherd lead, guard, and guide us to what He wants us to be, Amen.
Let us pray fervently for an increase in vocations the religious life and priestly life in our various Dioceses Amen.