I am the gate of the sheep

I am the gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food.

Jn 10:1 - 10

To bemoan change and to yearn for the past is to deny the wonder of God' gift of creative adaptability. Structures and institutions must adapt to new needs and opportunities or else become irrelevant quickly. The Church is no exception. The core teaching and values of following Christ remain constant but the most effective way in which they are to be lived out must be discovered and implemented by each generation, learning from the past but living in the present while planning flexibility for the future.

Today is Vocations Sunday. It is an opportunity to focus in how priesthood and religious life will be lived-out in this year and beyond. However, no matter what happens in the rapidly changing decades of the 21st century, the person called to the priesthood or religious life will be:

One who believes that God is achieving great things in and through this generation;
One who believes that the Eucharist is the cornerstone of life;
One whose hope is founded on living faith, shared
and nurtured in a praying community;
One who will risk going the extra mile for Christ;
One who will risk surrendering personal freedom for security in the Lord;
One who will risk undertaking the most menial jobs for love of others;
One who will risk being exploited for the sake of the gospel.

Such a one will be a person of hopeful joy rather than of cynical despair; a person of generous risk rather than of comfortable cuteness. Only God's grace could inspire such living. It is open to each of us to create an atmosphere where such a call can take root.

(Commentary by Tom Clancy. Taken from "Preaching the Word", Columba)

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The true disciple is an expectant person, always taking it for granted that there is something about to break through from the master, something about to burst through the ordinary and uncover a new light on the landscape. The master is going to speak or show something; reality is going to open up when you're in the master's company and so your awareness (as has often been said by people writing about contemplative prayer) is a little bit like that of a bird-watcher, the experienced bird-watcher, who is sitting still, poised, alert, not tense or fussy, knowing that this is the kind of place where something extraordinary suddenly bursts into view.

I've always rather liked that image of prayer as bird-watching. You sit very still because something is liable to burst into view, and sometimes of course it means a long day sitting in the rain with nothing very much happening, and I suspect that most of us know that a lot of our experience of prayer is precisely that. But the odd occasions when you do see what T. S. Eliot called 'the kingfisher's wing flashing light to light' make it all worthwhile. And I think that living in expectancy – living in awareness, your eyes sufficiently open and your mind sufficiently both slack and attentive to see that when it happens – has a great deal to do with discipleship, indeed with discipleship as the gospels present it to us. Interesting (isn't it?) that in the gospels the disciples don't just listen, they're expected to look as well. They're people who are picking up clues all the way through.

Archbishop Rowan Williams


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