“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27)

by Shiu Lan
Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 13:14, 43-52

Revelation 7:9, 14B-17

John 10:27-30

This Sunday is World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Pope Francis released on April 2, 2019 an apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit (“Christ Lives”) reflecting on the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. In Chapter 8, the last part of the document, he gives excellent guidance to young people about vocation. While his advice is primarily for young people, I think it is equally valuable and inspiring to people in all stages of life. Let us hear from him.

The Holy Father said that the word “vocation” can be understood in a broad sense as a calling from God, including the call to life, the call to friendship with him, the call to holiness, and so forth. This calling from God situates our whole life in relation to the God who loves us. It makes us realize that nothing is the result of pure chance but that everything in our lives can become a way of responding to the Lord, who has a wonderful plan for us.

Our own personal vocation is something more than the work we do: it is a path guiding our many efforts and actions towards service to others. This gives greater value to everything we do. Our work is no longer just about making money, keeping busy or pleasing others. It becomes our vocation because we are called to it; it is something more than merely a pragmatic decision. In the end, it is a recognition of why I was made, why I am here on earth, and what the Lord’s plan is for my life. He will not show me every place, time and detail, since I will have to make my own prudent decisions. But he will show me a direction in life, for he is my Creator and I need to listen to his voice, so that, like clay in the hands of a potter, I can let myself be shaped and guided by him. I will become what I was meant to be, faithful to my own reality. I am inspired to bring out the best in myself for the glory of God and the good of others. It is not simply a matter of doing things, but of doing them with meaning and direction.

In ending Chapter 8 Vocation, the Pope writes “Jesus is walking in our midst, as he did in Galilee. He walks through our streets, and he quietly stops and looks into our eyes”, “Yet today the stress and quick pace of a world constantly bombarding us with stimuli can leave no room for the interior silence in which we can perceive Jesus’ gaze and hear his call” (277, Chapter 8).

How many times and how often have I missed encountering Jesus because I have focused too much on the things of the world? Many times and very often.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). As we go about our busy life in this noisy world, may we be inspired by the Pope’s advice, ponder on our busyness and seek out the calm and quiet in our hearts. It is only in this interior silence that we can hear and follow Jesus our Good Shepherd.