Josemaría Escrivá Obras
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Christ is passing by > The Epiphany of our Lord > Number 34
34

If vocation comes first, if the star shines ahead to start us along the path of God's love, it is illogical that we should begin to doubt if it chances to disappear from view. It might happen at certain moments in our interior life — and we are nearly always to blame — that the star disappears, just as it did to the wise kings on their journey. We have already realized the divine splendour of our vocation, and we are convinced about its definitive character, but perhaps the dust we stir up as we walk our miseries — forms an opaque cloud that cuts off the light from above.

What should we do if this happens? Follow the example of those wise men and ask. Herod made use of knowledge to act unjustly. The Magi use it to do good. But we Christians have no need to go to Herod nor to the wise men of this world. Christ has given his Church sureness in doctrine and a flow of grace in the sacraments. He has arranged things so that there will always be people to guide and lead us, to remind us constantly of our way. There is an infinite treasure of knowledge available to us: the word of God kept safe by the Church, the grace of Christ administered in the sacraments and also the witness and example of those who live by our side and have known how to build with their good lives a road of faithfulness to God.

Allow me to give you a piece of advice. If ever you lose the clear light, always turn to the good shepherd. And who is the good shepherd? "He who enters by the door" of faithfulness to the Church's doctrine and does not act like the hireling "who sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees"; whereupon "the wolf snatches them and scatters them." Reflect on these divine words, which are not said in vain, and on the insistence of Christ who so affectionately speaks of shepherds and sheep, of sheepfold and flock, as a practical proof of the need that our soul has of good guidance.

"If there be no bad shepherds," says St Augustine speaking about the good shepherd, "he would not have described the hireling, who sees the wolf and flees. He seeks his own glory, not Christ's glory. He does not dare to rebuke sinners with freedom of spirit. The wolf catches a sheep by the neck, the devil induces a man to commit adultery. And you are silent and do not rebuke. Then you are a hireling because you have seen the wolf and have fled. Perhaps you might say: No, I'm here, I haven't fled. I answer: You have fled because you have been silent, and you have been silent because you were afraid."

The holiness of Christ's Spouse has always been shown — as it can be seen today — by the abundance of good shepherds. But our christian faith, which teaches us to be simple, does not bid us be simple-minded. There are hirelings who keep silent, and there are hirelings who speak with words which are not those of Christ. That is why, if the Lord allows us to be left in the dark even in little things, if we feel that our faith is not firm, we should go to the good shepherd. He enters by the door as of right. He gives his life for others and wants to be in word and behaviour a soul in love. He may be a sinner too, but he trusts always in Christ's forgiveness and mercy.

If your conscience tells you that you have committed a fault — even though it does not appear to be serious or if you are in doubt — go to the sacrament of penance. Go to the priest who looks after you, who knows how to demand of you a steady faith, refinement of soul and true christian fortitude. The Church allows the greatest freedom for confessing to any priest, provided he has the proper faculties; but a conscientious Christian will go — with complete freedom — to the priest he knows is a good shepherd, who can help him to look up again and see once more, on high, the Lord's star.

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