Spiritual growth is essential for every Christian. Without it, we might not recognize the good shepherd when he calls. What are some ways to get to know the good shepherd, personally? “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15
Individuation is the process of becoming your own person. It cannot happen while you are still a child or subject to an educational system. Many people miss the boat and never become a solo that thinks for himself/herself. It takes courage and perseverance to challenge the social constraints that have been imparted through family and school.
The process of individuation is difficult and produces many opponents. Often I have had to separate myself from friends and family in order to individuate. As I become more an individual, I can sift through the things I was taught and begin to discard those things that are detrimental to my relationship with the good shepherd.
Getting to know the compassionate God in Jesus Christ is the ultimate purpose of reading the Bible. When the Word begins to come alive in everyday situations, I know I am immersed in it and have assimilated much of what God wants me to know about him there. His word is alive and he speaks to me through it most of the time.
Jesus teaches us much more than is presented by the writers of the early Church. I find it helpful to focus repeatedly on the teachings of Jesus as I get to know the good shepherd. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46
Contemplative prayer is a quiet meditative exercise that has great potential for experiencing the joys and glory of a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a personal and secret experience that opens the understanding and prepares one to recognize and intimately know Jesus in all his glory.
There are dangers involved in beginning to practice contemplative prayer. I have found Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila to be helpful in making progress in this form of meditation. This is where I find the kingdom of God. And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20-21
As the love of God grows in my heart I begin to do good works of charity in helping others where I can. I start with my family members and help those who need help. I try to help strangers when I notice. It is also a good thing to pray for those whom you help. Taking the example of the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, we also might love enough to help others till it hurts.
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. John 21:16-17