Monday, May 13, 2019

May 12, 2019: 4th Sunday Easter C

May 12, 2019: 4th Sunday Easter C
This is a season when many mothers face empty nest as their children graduate and “fly away” to colleges or enter workforce. Some mothers posted online what they are telling their sons and daughters as they depart for their new adventures: Call your mother, or at least text your mother; Only spend what you have...being broke in college or anywhere after high school is a rite of passage; Show gratitude to all of those people who have gotten you to where you are today… don’t look down on anyone unless you are helping them up; Don’t let your room get to the point where it looks like an episode of “Hoarders.” How much these mom’s advice stick depends on how well they decide to listen. As our graduates embark on their new journey, there is one advice that will help ground them firmly on their faith: your one desire should be that you want and choose what better leads you to a deeper relationship with God.

To want and choose that which leads us into a deeper relationship with
Our Heavenly Father means that we must recognize the voice and the presence of Our Lord, the Good Shepherd, in the ordinary choices we face every day. We the disciples of Jesus are the faithful sheep that belongs to Jesus and listen to his guiding voice. Granted, it is not easy to listen to his voice in today’s environment. We get distracted by things around us--swirling desires pull us in all sorts of directions. Only listening attentively in prayer will we hear what our Good Shepherd has to say to us.  

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She answered, "I listen." So Dan asked the question in another way and said, "Well then, what does God say?"  Mother Teresa smiled and said, "He listens." Dan was confused and didn’t know what to say. Mother added, "And if you don't understand that, I can't explain it to you." In prayer two friends listen attentively to each other; it’s not a one way communication. God listens to us attentively like a Good Shepherd, listening to our deepest desires and yearnings. We in turn listen, not just say lots of words. We listen for his thirst for love of us. Perhaps if we listen attentively, we will hear the following:

“I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you. I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it could be Me, I am there. I await even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter. I come - longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds. I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts.” (Fr. Joseph Langford, “I thirst for you”)

When we truly listen to Jesus in prayer, we will gradually want and choose what matters most to Heavenly Father. We will deepen our desire to satiate Jesus’ thirst for us. Rather than impulsively go and do whatever we want, we instead desire to heed Jesus’ call to us, “follow me,” to go where Our Shepherd wants us to go. For our young people graduating, in due time you will encounter persons you are attracted to marry. Or perhaps, you will feel an attraction to a consecrated life to priesthood or religious life. In these attractions, one must pray deeply to hear the genuine invitation from Our Good Shepherd to follow His lead rather than to be swept away by emotions. By your prayerful discernment, you will be participating in an adventure which the Lord has in plan for you.

There is no greater joy than to risk one’s life for the Lord. We ask our Good Shepherd to give us a heart and ears open to His call. When he calls us to follow His path, we need to trust Him and not yield to our fears and preferences. Like the disciples who left their nets and boat behind when they were called, when we trust the Lord’s invitation and follow Him, the Lord promises the joy of a new life that can satiate our deepest yearnings.