I have a Friend who loves me very much, who is always available to listen to me without judging, blesses, and guides me, who is there when no one else is, who stands by me when I have strayed away.
I have often been asked by my formators and brother seminarians if I spend time with the Lord. But what does this – spending time with my Friend - look like for me?
My time with Jesus is often characterized by a quiet meditation on the Scriptures and a steady gaze at Jesus in the monstrance - or rather, should I say receiving a steady gaze from Jesus! His gaze always leaves me pouring out my worries and difficulties to him. Reflecting on my encounters with the Lord has made me realize so many things about myself, my relationship with him and my call to the priesthood.
Time spent with Jesus is a time of realization. Like Peter in (Mt 5:5), I always believe that I have the experience and resources to get a good catch out of this life. Time and again, this has proven futile and leaves me toiling in vain and catching nothing. Only then do I remember that I have a Friend - I run to him in the oratory and empty myself entirely to him. During such moments, I come to understand that on my own, I can do nothing - that it’s not by my power nor by might but only by the spirit of God will I achieve anything in this life.
It's a time of trust, a time to try again, but this time with my friend by my side. The one question Jesus often asks me during my time with him is “Shiadrik, do you trust me, do you believe I can do great thing through you?” Like any young person, I like to do things my way and expect results to happen just the way I predict them. Trusting completely in Jesus often seem crazy. Spending time with Jesus has given me the ability to trust him. It always gives me reasons to keep casting my net even when it seems odd to the people around me. All I do is trust in my Friend and he never fails me.
It’s a time of leaving behind all baggage and following the footsteps of my friend. Like the apostles, realizing who I am and what God wants to do with me makes me want to surrender every piece of my life to him and detach myself from the things that try hold me back. It helps me to accept my call to the priesthood, to serve the people of God wherever I find myself. I joyfully accept my vocation because I know my Friend is with me, to keep me company when I am lonely, to energize me when I am frustrated in my work, to bless my ministry with a great catch and to make of me a priest after his very heart. It reveals his love for me and brings me to a deeper relationship with him, setting my heart on fire for him.
No one encounters my Friend and goes back the same. His presence is contagious, it is like a virus and spreads like wildfire setting everything in its path ablaze. All he asks of me is to make myself available for him and he will set my heart on fire (“I have come to set the world on fire and how I wish it was already blazing” [Luke 12:49]). Whenever I reflect on my time with Jesus, I can only say like the prophet Jeremiah, “You duped me Lord and I have allowed myself to be duped by You” or like Saint Augustine “my soul is restless until it rests in you, Lord”. If you wish to have a religious experience like mine, start spending time with Jesus today!
Shiadrik Mokum is in his Pastoral Year at St. John’s in Severna Park. Shiadrik normally studies at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. His home parish is Holy Family in Davidsonville. Please pray for Shiadrik!