Remember the 1980s, when Swatch came up with a watch that had interchangeable straps and face rings? The straps and rings came in an array that made up the colours of a rainbow. I was only a little girl and of course I was taken up by the endless combinations this watch could provide! As long as the colours were in the box, you had yourself your own unique watch! Naturally, I pestered my Papa for the watch, and he bought it for my birthday. You can imagine the endless hours of fun I had with this watch set!
Fast forward 10 years later, I hit a crisis in my life. The struggles I had with identity and self-worth, sent me on an emotional roller coaster ride. I was faced to confront questions, one of which was the purpose of my life. As the Lord would have it, a nonchalant stroll into Church on a weekday, led to a turning point in my life.
Having seen how much I had struggled and having witnessed my endless stream of tears, my dad encouraged me to go for daily Mass. As God would have it, there was a recruitment for a youth and young adult retreat organised by the District Parishes. My dad took the opportunity to sign me up for it despite my reluctance.
What may have seemed like a coerced deal, turned out to be the best experience of my life. It was in this retreat that I first experienced the unconditional love of God, and I gave my life to The Lordship of Jesus Christ. There was no turning back from then on.
The Lord saw me
Just as Jesus called out to His first Disciples to “Come Follow Me” (Lk 5:1-11), the Lord had found me mending my “nets” of self -rejection, shame and guilt. He saw me and called out to me, to come follow Him. The Lord saw me.
That was the first encounter Peter and his companions had with Jesus. He saw beyond appearances and recognised the potential that they hold within them. It was an encounter so powerful that it led them to leave everything behind to follow Christ. I believe the Disciples followed Him, because they were seen. The Gospel tells us that Jesus saw them.
I saw The Lord
My first encounter with Christ led me to a lifelong pursuit of God, and His will in my life. In doing so, I was brought on a journey of self-discovery, which eventually led me to realise that the disposition of my heart was crucial in determining my response to God. I struggled with the fear of abandonment. I was afraid that God would only “use” me and have eyes only for His Mission. What about my dreams and desires? What about my concerns and responsibilities? What if he asks of me to do something that is beyond me or not of my liking? These questions have caused many sleepless nights for Christians who have embarked on the serious road of Christian Discipleship.
Jesus led me to confront my fears by first healing my image of God, asking me as He had asked Peter then, “Who do you say I am?”. In the process of healing, He invites me to sit by feet, to listen to Him, to learn his ways, to know His character, to conform to His Words and Ways. In short, He was teaching me Discipleship.
In one particular prayer session, He reminded me of the Swatch watch that my Papa gave to me. The Lord told me, that the purpose of the watch was to tell time. It didn’t matter what combination of straps or rings I chose. As long as the watch served its function, and I was happy. The Lord revealed to me that just as the watch serves to tell the time, my existence serves a purpose. “Ultimately, as long as you are happy, and that choice helps you to best know Me, love Me and serve Me, then it’s the vocation for you. Your happiness is My happiness.”
That day was when I started to see The Lord.
To be seen is to be known and to be known is to be seen. Just as I want to be loved by being seen and known, the Lord too wants to be loved. He invites us to come follow Him, to see Him, and to know Him. Such is the brilliance of God. He is our First Love, and just as two lovers see each other, their hearts become one, and the fruit of Love is born. A vocation is born.
The call to follow Christ is the Primary Vocation of every Christian, and that call is the Universal Call to Holiness. (Lumen Gentium) Holiness is the foundation, the bedrock from which every vocation grows.
Discipleship with Christ, leads us to grow in holiness and what better way to learn, than from Our Blessed Mother, who is the Perfect Disciple.
Mary’s humble fiat, was one of complete openness to the Love of the Lord, a response that demanded complete trust in Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. She did not allow her fears to stray her from her heavenly Father’s will. Instead, Mary resolutely proclaimed fiat, through which the echoes of Psalm 24, ring out the Lordship of Christ and the humble submission of a handmaid, who embraces the surety of perfection that can be found in the Creator of infinite possibilities.
Our response to the Call of Christ to come follow Him, is ultimately an invitation to answer our Lord’s question to Peter, “Who do you say I am?” I pray that when called upon, I too may boldly proclaim, “You are Christ, the Son of The Living God.”, for in doing so, I place myself under The Lordship of Jesus Christ, and like Mary, allow my “Yes”, to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
Cheryl-Anne Goh left the financial industry, after receiving a call from The LORD. She has been working for the Parish of St Francis Xavier, first as a Youth Coordinator, and then as a Pastoral Executive for the past 13 years.