Changes. Yesterday I attended mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit and was surprised with the changes that I see around the parish such as the environment, parking rules, bulletin (nice to see a comic section)… Change is inevitable and though sometimes, it could be a alarming time of needed adjustment and processing, it is part and parcel of life.
We would need to take up our crosses to go, just like a traveler who is constantly packing bags in exploring the different cities, we too need to move along with the change and hopefully something good will come out of it. Even the different campus communities have come under one leadership and new things are constantly being implemented. Life is not a constant, but it is constantly changing based on people and situations.“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”
The gospel reading for this Sunday says,“Jesus said:”Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep”
“The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.When he has driven out all his own,he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.”
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate.Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:1-10).”
The image of the good shepherd is always vivid in my mind as it shows Jesus to be the shepherd who always welcomes us into the sheepfold. Jesus always invites us to listen to His voice which is the one true voice in guiding us back into the fold when we go astray.
On this vocation Sunday, Jesus declares that He is the gate towards the path of truth, righteousness and hope. He will lead us (the sheep) away from danger to bring us to greener pastures and cool streams to rest and be restored. However, we too must lead others around us into the gate so that they will rediscover the meaning and purpose of their life. Discernment of personal vocation is paramount, but we too should guide others as mini shepherd guides in the right direction, which is towards life everlasting.
Though my vocation journey has been met with many obstacles, I am hoping to try and continue discerning after my exams, perhaps its time to get a spiritual director? After all, I have been putting this thought off for quite some time and I would like to explore this option soon.
I would like to share my latest experience as a youth mentor at a community centre and this is how it went. Uno Uno! shouts of delight rang out through the centre as the kids were engaged in playing a card game as a group and they were trying to win the game. Another mentor and I waited patiently for the other kids to come into the centre, while being entertained by their antics.They seemed more relaxed than usual even though it was supposed to be exam week. Normally the kids would seek our help with their homework or questions relating to any subjects they had difficulties in.
Ping! The glass door swung open and a kid walked in, and he was familiar as I had coached him the previous week. As he went to take a drink from the dispenser, the staff asked him if he had any homework and he replied with a smile, “Yes I have”.
My friend agreed to teach him in taking turns as the kid opened his school bag to retrieve his homework. I left my friend to coach him while I turned my attention back to the game. A few seconds had passed when my friend came back to me and said,”The kid wants you to teach him.”
I was surprised and amused but gladly obliged as he was a familiar face. He said, “Teacher, you do, you teach me la, all these so difficult.” I reassuringly told him,”I can guide you, but I cannot be with you during exams.” Sitting down with him required lots of patience and encouragement as with a short attention span, motivation was the key to get him to complete his homework.
As I flipped through his homework, it reminded me of my struggles back in the primary school and the syllabus was even harder for children nowadays. I was very happy when he could do the multiplication tables as a mini test to build his confidence in remembering those tables by hard.
Soon he got his homework done in no time and I am glad that the kid reminded me that perhaps this was also part of my vocation which is to teach? Though I am anxious for the kid, his small improvements are rewarding enough for me to know that even though I am not a certified teacher, I did try to be there for him, when he had no one. Perhaps, only time will tell where Jesus is calling me on this vocation journey.
Dear readers, I invite you to observe a little more and see where God is calling you. Meanwhile, there are different resources such as Vocare, vocations talks or retreats with the different religious orders in Singapore such as the Diocesan Priesthood and their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Do continue to be courageous and trust in the Lord in your discernment journey!
God Bless as we pray for one another in this time of exams for good health and clarity of mind and for those who have been called to be part of the different religious orders, those who are discerning and those who have not taken the first step yet . . . Jesus loves you. Amen.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong