It is good to befriend the Saints. Their lived experiences and expressions of holiness can serve as sources of inspiration to us, plus it is always good to have a friend in Heaven who we can turn to when seeking direction. St. John the Apostle is an excellent mentor to a young person in vocational discernment as he himself was a young man when called by Jesus. Let us consider the moment when he and Christ first met.
‘...and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).’ (Jn. 1:36-39).
What are you seeking? Has Jesus asked you what you are looking for? Have you an answer for him? We do not have to ask Christ where he is staying for we know where we can find him – residing in the tabernacle as the Blessed Sacrament, longing for us to come and see, to spend some time with him - may we always be generous in our response to this invitation.
There is something very beautiful in John’s account of his call to follow Jesus in that he remembers the time, the place and the words spoken. In pondering upon his experience of this new love, John remembers every detail. Like a first date, or a parent’s first hold of their new-born, every detail is held dearly. John admits to us in what is a seemingly throwaway line just how engulfed he was by Christ’s love, for in the moment of a newfound love, our lives change.
It is well documented by John that he and Jesus shared an intimate connection for he tells us repeatedly in his Gospel that Jesus loved him; he was utterly convinced of it, he knew it and he lived accordingly (Jn. 13:23; 19:26; 21:7). In his close friendship with Christ, John witnesses first-hand his teachings and miracles. He was there holding Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross, watching our Saviour suffer and die. He ran with Peter on that first Easter morning to the tomb upon hearing that Jesus had risen from the dead and he recognised the Risen Lord at the miracle of the one-hundred and fifty-three fish caught in the Galilee.
St. John and his lived experience as an Apostle offers us an example of how discernment is a gradual process of revelation built upon a strengthening of faith. It may at times confuse us and it may bring us sorrow, but ultimately it will lead us to a life of unparalleled joy as when we give of ourselves in the service of God we fulfil our true purpose.
We receive our vocation at conception; as you grow and develop our gifts and talents that vocation becomes apparent. God speaks to our hearts and prepares us, gently loving us and guiding us. It is up to us to listen and respond.
Perhaps as we journey through this season of Lent you should take the opportunity to improve your prayer life. Whilst in discernment your relationship with Jesus is evolving, deepening and changing, and that requires honest and frequent communication.