“When and how did you hear the voice of God calling you to be a religious priest?” This is one question about my vocation that I find difficult to answer. I cannot really say exactly when I perceived my calling or how it came to be.
I am only certain that I sensed my vocation clearly when I made a conscious decision to belong completely to Jesus as His slave of love through Mary, in the manner of Christian spirituality proposed by St. Louis de Montfort. I believe that this firm resolve to belong to Jesus completely and to live for Him, with and through Mary, prepared me to perceive my calling and to respond to it.
When Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice,” He indicates that we must first truly belong to Him, really become His sheep, if we are going to hear His voice and sense Him holding on to us in this life, “No one can take them out of my (Christ’s) hands.” This belonging to Jesus entails that we expect all things from Him, trusting and depending on Him alone, and that we do and endure all things for Him so as to please Him.
The apostolic ventures of Paul and Barnabas in Antioch yields mixed results. The Gentiles become believers in the Gospel but the Jews rejected and persecuted the apostles, and eventually expelled them from the city. But we are told that the Apostles left with deep joy, “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the source of our belonging to God even now in this world. The joy of the Apostles is the joy of belonging to God through the bond of the Holy Spirit. This inner joy of the Spirit endures because the rejection, persecution and expulsion they suffered do not prevent them from belonging to Jesus.
The saints in glory are described in the Book of Revelation as those who “have survived the time of great distress and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”(Rev 7:14) The great distress, that persecution they endured for belonging to Christ, did not prevent them from belonging to Christ. They remained His own through the blood that He shed for us on the cross. For them, Christ’s blood was not shed in vain. God surely rewards and consoles those who remain His own till the very end, “For the Lamb…will shepherd them and lead them to the spring of life-giving waters and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we already belong to God as His beloved children in Christ from the very moment of baptism. But do we consciously try to live as people who belong to Him? Do we see ourselves and all that we have as coming from Him and to be used for Him alone? Don’t we still live pretending we are owners and masters of our lives and all that we have?
As long as we do not consciously live as people who belong to God completely, we can never hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in our lives and we can never experience His loving presence and action in our lives even in the darkest moments. When we don’t belong to Him as we should, we begin to ask, “Where is God in my life?” as we lose hope and forfeit the deep inner joy of the Lord’s Spirit in our lives.
I mentioned at the beginning that I heard His voice only when I resolved to belong to Jesus completely through Mary as His slave of love. Why through Mary? What difference does Mary make? Mary makes all the difference first because it is through Mary that Jesus gave Himself completely to us in an irrevocable way. I am only following the example of Jesus.
Besides, no one ever belonged to God as radically and completely and forever like Mary did. She pronounced her fiat in the moment of the Annunciation when she did not completely grasp what God was asking for her and she did not take back an iota of that fiat even in the darkest and most painful moments of her life. By belonging completely and irrevocably to Jesus, she listened to the voice of God constantly in her life, “Mary pondered all these things in her heart.”
Giving ourselves to Jesus through Mary, we do not wait to become holy or good enough before we belong to Jesus. We do not wait to have great results and accomplishments before we can belong to Him. Mary moves us to give ourselves to God even if we are “unprofitable servants.” Mary lovingly moves us to choose to belong to Him completely and forever even as we sense our own unworthiness, infidelity, and weaknesses and when we feel completely useless in His service.
With and through Mary, nothing can stop us from belonging to Jesus completely, always and forever.
The risen Christ is alive and He is with us now. We belong to Him and He is holding on to us at every moment and constantly speaking words of hope to us. We do not hear Him simply because we do not belong to Him as we should.
We can belong to Christ only because He has chosen to forever belong to us and to offer Himself for us on the cross. He shed His blood for us on the cross and rose from the grave so that we belong completely to Him, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For this end Christ died and rose again, that He might be lord both of the dead and the living.”(Rom 14:9)
As we enter into communion with this blood in our Eucharist today, let us live so that His blood poured out on the cross for us would not be shed in vain. Like Mary and with Mary, let us belong to Jesus Christ completely and forever so that we will hear His voice in the midst of life’s distress and know the joy of His Spirit. This is when we shall cease from asking, “Where is God in my life?”
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!