This week I can suggest several Scripture passages that reflect an important aspect of discernment. While there are many areas to pray and reflect upon when discerning a vocation to religious life, the fundamental and essential area is that of our relationship with God. What type of life leads to God for you? We want to know from God the answer to this question, don’t we? Staying focused on our relationship with God allows us to see what is authentic in our discernment.
Take the difficult Scripture story when Jesus explains that the door is narrow that leads to eternal life. We often understand this line to mean that only a few will enter the narrow door. However, if we look at that passage in context of who Jesus was speaking to, it takes on a whole new meaning. He was speaking to shepherds.
When a shepherd is settling his flock of sheep, he has them enter one by one through the gate. He calls each sheep by name and escorts them into the field. The gate is narrow because the shepherd doesn’t want all to come at once; he wants them in an intimate relationship of care and love. Likewise, Jesus teaches us that God calls each of us individually, by name, in love and care, to enter the Kingdom. We are not gate crashers – God wants to welcome each of us one by one – as that is how God loves us.
Likewise, in last Sunday’s Feast of Christ the King we have the powerful image of Jesus as King. Not a world view of a powerful, rich, mighty King who rules people and countries with a strong hand. That was the image of that time. Jesus reshapes King into a new image – King of our hearts, of our actions and of our love. We believe in Jesus as King of our lives – drawing us to love, care and God.
To know God’s intimate love for us, I encourage you to open your Bible to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Each prophet has a call that is intimate, challenging, and forms the foundation for their future choices. The prophets are extraordinary teachers for anyone engaged in discerning religious life. You will easily recognize their call experience. Which prophet resonates with your experience, your fears, your questions?
Our discernment must be forged with the knowledge of God’s immense and personal relationship with us. It impels us to want Christ for our King.
I hope some of you share your thoughts and let me know of particular discernment areas you would like to hear about.