4th Sun. of Easter
Jn. 10: 11-18
Some years ago I was counseling one of my novices who had received an unpleasant directive. In the course of our exchange, she asked what she no doubt considered a rhetorical question, “I don’t have any choice, do I?” But I responded, “Yes you do; you have the choice to do it willingly or to do it unwillingly.” She did not like this answer. Neither do I when it comes to be my turn to accept something that goes against the grain of my will.
Jesus laid down His life with the full freedom that was His as God. Unlike Him, we often have no control over the manner and timing of our death nor of the many daily dyings to our selfishness that present themselves unfailingly in the trials and tribulations of life. I wonder if we did have the choice, how many of us would choose crucifixion. At any rate, when faced with the inevitable, we do have the choice to lay down our lives willingly or unwillingly. If we do so willingly, then, like Jesus, we will experience a resurrection, a new surge of life and spiritual energy. It may, however, take longer than 3 days. Sometimes it is more like three weeks, or three months or maybe 3 years, or even 3 decades! It is also possible that we may have to wait until eternity dawns. But however long it takes, that new life will be ours. One of the advantages of growing older (as opposed to growing old) is that we have had the time to experience this ourselves. Those of you who have the misfortune to be young simply have to take it on faith. But take it from me as one who is growing older, that after you have been through the death, resurrection cycle again and again, you finally start getting the idea. That is, if you at least make the attempt to do it willingly, to conform your will to that of our Heavenly Father as Jesus did.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday and day of prayer for vocations, I pray that all who are called to lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters as priests or religious may have the freedom of love to do so. May they know that hundredfold reward promised by the Lord and joyfully sing that new song which only those who follow the Lamb may sing!