Season of Joy
Today's Season of Joy reflection on John 10:22-30 is by John Willig.
John received an engineering degree from Marquette University and followed it with a 40-year career at his family business. Since retirement, John has volunteered at St. Vincent De Paul, The Little Sisters of the Poor, a clothing center serving the needy, and as a communion distributor at The Christ Hospital. He is happily married with 8 grandchildren.
The Voice of Jesus
from John 10:22-30
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
To read the full scripture passage, please visit: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/
Several years ago, while volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul, we received a call on our hotline requesting funds from a young lady named Judith. She had enlisted in the Army and needed funds to travel to boot camp, which was several hundred miles away. We set up an appointment and met with her at her apartment. Her place was neatly kept—bright colors and lots of pictures on the wall—a good sign.
A side story here.
Earlier that morning at Mass, after receiving communion, I felt Jesus telling me that he was going to use me in a special way that day. I remember thinking, "Okay, that's fine...that's fine."
After reviewing Judith's request, we agreed to write her a check that day. However, before we left, I asked her, "Tell me about your relationship with God."
I have found that people want to tell their stories, and it's important to recall how God has worked in their lives.
She said, "When I was 17 years old my mother kicked me out of the house. I lived on the streets for three years. Whatever drugs, alcohol, or sex was on hand, I took part in it. I got pregnant, but continued to use drugs. At one point, I went to a clinic to have an abortion but was told that I was too far along to have the procedure."
In John's gospel today, Jesus—referring to his people as sheep—says, "My sheep hear my voice; I know them... I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand."
Sometimes the voice of Jesus is soft and tender, other times it’s powerful and overwhelming.
Continuing with Judith’s story, she said, "Roughly a month later, I walked into a hospital to deliver my baby. I was alone.
As my daughter was being born, the room suddenly filled with a very bright light. I felt the presence of God like I never had before or after. I felt God's total love and it completely encompassed me. His love overpowered me. Despite all that I had done, I felt total forgiveness, total love. I knew in my heart that Jesus was telling me, 'You are special. You are my child.'
When my daughter was placed on my chest, I remember thinking, 'She's perfect. She's perfect!' And she was—all 10 fingers and 10 toes—everything in order. And most surprising, there were no signs of withdrawal due to my drug use."
Judith said, "That was four years ago and I've been clean ever since. Not a day goes by that I don't thank the Lord for his love."
Then, as I looked around the room, every single picture was of her daughter.
As we were leaving, she told us that she would not be telling her family about leaving town.
"They are not healthy people, in fact quite opposite. I do not want my daughter being exposed to them."
Quoting today's Gospel Jesus continues, "My Father who has given my children to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of my Father's hands."
Amen to that Judith!
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