Summary: Jesus knows us intimately and loves us as no other could.
Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year C
World Day of Prayer for Vocations
April 29th, 2007
* Acts 13:14, 43-52
* Rev. 7:9, 14b-17
* Jn. 10:27-30
Known And Loved
Imagine this. You have been keeping a diary of your thoughts, feelings and actions for many, many years now. Each day you faithfully record both your inner thoughts and feelings and also what you did on that day. That diary contains your most personal revelations. It contains everything important that you have ever felt, thought or done.
But unknown to you, someone else has been reading that diary each day. That person now knows you inside out. Over the years, that person has come to deeply love you because they have come to know your struggles, your beliefs, your dreams, in short, everything about you that matters. You do know this other person, but not well. You have no idea how deeply they feel about you.
If you did know how this other person felt about you, you would be overjoyed at being so accepted and so loved. In fact, you have been searching to find such a person in your life, but never really did. And yet, all this time, you have been known and loved in a way that would be beyond your wildest dreams.
The Story Of Our Lives
Strange as it might sound, this is the very story of many of our lives. Jesus himself knows us in a way that no one else could ever hope to. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. And Jesus loves us with an acceptance and a love that we are all deeply yearning for. His love is always there, even though we may not be aware of it.
Jesus says through our Gospel reading: "My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me." But a relationship is a two-way street. It is not enough that Jesus knows and loves us. We also need to come to a deeper knowledge and love of Christ. We don’t want to be like that imaginary person who faithfully recorded his thoughts, feelings and actions, yet never shared those with anyone. We need to consciously share who we are with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, the one who cares for us with an eternal unbreakable love.
The Need To Pray
That is why we desperately need to pray, and to pray in a way that is honest and true to who each of us is. Yes, our need for prayer is a desperate need. So much of our life depends on being faithful to building and strengthening our friendship with Jesus Christ. In the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says: "I know my own sheep, and my own sheep know me." These words very clearly tell us that there has to be a mutuality between Jesus and ourselves. Incredible as it might sound, Jesus actually wants to be known by us. Prayer is the road we must walk if we wish to further our friendship with Jesus.
Our prayer needs to be constant, committed, truthful and personal. Saying prayers with no thought behind those prayers can actually be harmful to our spiritual health. Those kinds of prayers can be like talking to a person just for the sake of hearing ourselves talk. Nothing important really gets said and at the end of the so-called conversation, we get the feeling that nothing has really happened.
When we pray, we need to be aware and conscious. Just sitting in the presence of God in a conscious way is a very old form of prayer that many people are rediscovering today. But whatever form your prayer takes, pray! As our culture keeps telling us: Just do it!
World Day Of Prayer
Today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We need priests, brothers and sisters for many reasons. Many different needs exist and we need men and women in many different religious vocations to help fill those essential needs. But there is one need that is filled by everyone who is in a religious vocation, no matter what form that vocation may take. That is the need to be a living reminder of God’s presence and care in the world.
Those in religious vocations remind us by their very lives that we all need to pay attention to the Divine in our lives. Life is so full of just getting through the day-to-day kind of stuff, that we can easily forget what it’s all about. We all need to be reminded frequently that we are God’s daughters and sons, known and loved by Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
We need to pray for vocations. Perhaps our prayer will be for others to recognize and be open to God calling them. Or maybe we need to pray to recognize our own calling from God. It takes courage to hear and respond to God asking us to follow such a call.