Drinking Well

Tenderely Cradled

Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. (John 10:11- 13)

What is your calling in life? You might answer, ‘I don’t know, I just keep going from day to day, I do the best I can.’ Here in Limerick last year our new bishop, Brendan Leahy wrote a letter to all the people in his diocese to remind us that everyone has a calling in life. He said that all of us are called to live our lives to the full, and that each of us is called to be in tune with God’s plan for our life. 

But how would you know God’s plan for your life? In all kinds of ways, he answered. A couple, for example, fall in love and commit themselves to each other in marriage. As they give of their best, they may be confident that their marriage is God’s plan for them and that they are following God’s call. If they have children, they have a further calling as parents.

One’s calling may change at different stages in life. Students in school or at college are called to study and to make good use of the opportunities that are offered them. Young people who are fortunate to find work that suits them, that provides a reasonable income, and that is of service to others, may recognise a calling in it. A person may have a number of jobs in the course of a lifetime and may recognise a calling in each. 

Called to keep trying 
What about the young people who cannot find employment? Without knowing what their long term calling is, their immediate calling may be to keep trying to find work, not to become discouraged or give up, and to use their time as well as they can. This is easy to say but may not be easy to do.

Parents become grandparents and may recognise a new calling in their relationship with their grand-children. They love them, they encourage, they guide, and without having the ultimate responsibility for their welfare, they enjoy their company.

People get sick and find a new calling in the struggle to get well; they learn to be patient and to endure what they cannot change, and continue to live their lives as fully as they can. They may offer their sufferings to the Lord for the benefit of others.

Bishop Brendan said that God is always calling and that our part is to respond generously to that step which he is inviting us to take at this stage of our lives. He asked us to listen to the inner voice of God in our hearts.

Kayla Mueller

Kayla Mueller discovered her calling at an early age. While still in high school in Arizona, she was passionate about defending human rights and providing humanitarian aid. She was a young woman of action. She joined the campus Christian ministry at North Arizona University. While in college she was active in the Save Darfour Coalition. She worked as a volunteer at a women’s night shelter. She started a chapter of Amnesty International. She went to Israel to help in a summer camp for young African refugees. She went to Israel’s occupied territories to show support for the Palestinians. For a time she taught English in India to Tibetan refugees and to poor women and children.

Finding God in the suffering eyes of others 
She wrote in 2010, ‘this really is my life’s work, to go where there is suffering. I suppose like all of us I am learning how to deal with the suffering of the world inside myself.’ When asked what kept her going in her mission she said, ‘I find God in the suffering eyes reflected in mine;’ her next words were addressed to God, ‘if this is how you are revealed to me, this is how I will forever seek you.’

She was deeply concerned about the suffering of the Syrian people. She said in a video recording, ‘Syrians are dying by the thousands. For as long as I live I will not let this suffering be normal.’ She worked in Turkey caring for refugees from Syria. She crossed over into Aleppo in Syria and on the following day was abducted by members of ISIS. She was held as a prisoner for eighteen months and was killed in early February this year. ISIS claimed that she died when the house in which she was being held was bombed by a Jordanian jet fighter. She was 26 years old.

In a letter smuggled from her prison, she told her parents, ‘I have surrendered myself to our creator because literally there is no one else… and by God’s grace and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in free fall.’

Prayer Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. 
Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. 
Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. 
You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. 
In the Lord's own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.

Brendan Clifford


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