“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

The “call to discipleship” is a call to love. This issue of Vermont Catholic magazine focuses upon how people in our Vermont Catholic community live out that call to serve the Church and others in love. You will notice that this call is a universal call to love. It is not restricted to those who wear a clerical collar or a religious habit. It is a commission that flows from the waters of baptism.

There’s a wonderful moment toward the end of the Rite of Infant Baptism after the child has been baptized. It’s called the “Ephphetha or “Prayer over Ears and Mouth.” Ephphetha is an Aramaic word meaning “be opened.” It was uttered by Christ when He healed the man who was deaf and dumb (Mk 7:34). In the Rite of Infant Baptism, the celebrant touches the ears and mouth of the child with his thumb saying: “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to receive His word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.”

Right from the earliest moment of Christian life, the moment when most of us were baptized as children, we are reminded that we are being commissioned to receive and proclaim the Word of God, the Word that is love incarnate. We do this both in word and in action in our homes, our towns and our work place. My friends, you have such an opportunity to help others know Him as you do because you are in those places, places where there is no bishop or clergy or religious, places that can still know Christ because of you.

Still whatever our path in life, the most important starting point for us is to recognize that the “call to discipleship” is first a call to a relationship — a deep, spiritual, devoted love of the Master. It is a relationship that must be cultivated in a daily prayer in which we abandon ourselves to the one who knows us more than we know ourselves. Christ knows our deepest longings, our deepest needs and our deepest desires. The poet George Herbert in 1603 wrote a profoundly moving poem entitled “The Call.” In it, Herbert offers the prayer of a believer as he/she seeks that deep relationship with Christ:

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:

Such a Way, as gives us breath:

Such a Truth, as ends all strife:

Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, My Light, my Feast, my Strength:

Such a Light, as shows a feast:

Such a Feast, as mends in length:

Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:

Such a Joy, as none can move:

Such a Love, as none can part:

Such a Heart, as joys in love.

You and I stand in the light and the joy of the Easter season, knowing that our Way, our Truth and our Life lives as the glorified and resurrected Son of God in heaven. It is in that light that we live the call to discipleship, spreading the Good News that Jesus is Lord to His praise and glory forever and ever.

God bless and happy Easter.

—Originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.