O Clarim News Desk (English)
Discernment: Come, follow me
“Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10). Do not be afraid to witness Jesus’ death, for we will see His resurrection.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important celebration of the Catholic Church. He brings us salvation and new life, and reminds us that the call of Jesus Christ is to achieve His “plan of love”. Everyone, before meeting Christ and embracing the Christian faith, has been given the gift of life as a fundamental call (59th World Day of Prayers for Vocation Message).
As the pandemic is over, the society of Macau broke the silence and is strengthening her ties with the world. The Catholic Diocese of Macau has also taken an active part in setting off with all sectors of the society. Therefore, it is also necessary for the diocese to rethink and discern pastoral plans and work that meet local needs.
Since last year, over a series of papal audiences, Pope Francis has given thought-provoking statements in regard to discernment: in order to learn to choose the best things for our lives, we need to be close to God first. The Pope shared that in life, and even in the search for faith, choice is our daily subject. Everyone is a creature of God and is given different talents and missions because “discernment presents itself as an exercise of intelligence, and also of skill and also of will, to seize the opportune moment: these are the conditions for making a good choice” (Papal Audience on 31st August 2022).
The Bible teaches us that we always encounter different challenges in life, but we need to understand what is good for ourselves and for our relationship with God. There are various temptations in life. When we are guided by God and have received a vocation, then we are able to choose the best out of the many options (ibid).
“Discernment” will help us better understand the work of God in us and the meaning of vocation for us. We are all called by God to be the executors of the mission of the Church (59th World Day of Prayers for Vocation Message). “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelisation” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120). God has invited us to work with all the members of the Church, especially with those chiefly tasked to implement plans in the Church. We do this in the same capacity as children of God to advance the Christian mission. The whole Church is a missionary community.
Through “discernment”, we are called to respond to God’s gaze upon all of us. The dialogue between Jesus and the young man in the Gospel of Matthew involves the question of offering and the laying down of material wealth. The young man asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” (Mt 19:16). Jesus told him to obey the commandments, but the young man still felt that it was not enough and thus asked Him what was lacking. Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).
This is precisely what the Good Shepherd and vocation are about. Although the Church deals with secular affairs, she follows the example of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and constantly reminds her followers not to lose their enthusiasm for responding to their vocation. He asked the young man to give up his wealth and follow him. This requires the courage to: set aside one’s own aspirations and expectations, follow Christ’s guidance, act according to His plan, and follow Him.
To this end, I declare that, from 30th April 2023 (Good Shepherd/Vocations Sunday) to 8th December 2024 (Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception), the Diocese of Macau will celebrate the “Diocesan Year of Vocations”. I hope that through the vigour of the diocese, in union with her priests, sisters, consecrated people, the laity, and community leaders, and through various forms of vocation formation and activities, young men and women are encouraged to respond generously to the call of God, and to lay a solid foundation for the future of the diocese. Activities for the Year of Vocations will be organised and announced in due time by the new members of the Diocesan Vocations Commission (appointment effective from 30th April).
Finally, I invite all of you to meditate with a tender heart upon the portrait of the resurrected Jesus Christ. He gently and unceasingly calls us to follow in His footsteps. Let us use the Word of God as the foundation to discern divine grace in this world and the next. I hope that the grace of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ comes upon each of us. And do not be afraid, discern, and go follow Him.
＋Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang
Catholic Diocese of Macau