By: Nqobile Ngcobo Before I began discerning my vocation last year, the idea of discernment was a foreign concept to me. To be honest, vocation was a foreign concept to me too. My journey in discernment has been difficult but rewarding; so I’d like to share some tips in the so often misunderstood and underappreciated journey of discerning. This applies to discerning your vocation, or just discerning a decision in your life, big or small. I want to start off by reflecting on the Gospel story of The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Luke gives an account of two of the disciples walking along a road in their way to a town called Emmaus, just outside of Jerusalem. Whilst on this road they encounter Jesus, though they do not recognise Him. Jesus asks them why they look so sad, and they begin to give an account of all that has happened leading up to and including Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus is quick to chastise them for not believing in everything written in scripture concerning the Messiah. Then as they enter the village, they invite Jesus to join them as the day is almost over. Jesus sits down with them to eat, and they recognise Him when He breaks the bread and gives it to them. He then disappears. This verse in scripture kept coming up whilst I was discerning last year. At first, I identified with the two disciples. As I would read this verse I would feel frustrated with Jesus. Why couldn’t He just tell them who He is, as opposed to allowing them to be so distraught, and worse, watching them recount the difficulties they had just experienced? My interpretation had a lot to do with the way in which I was struggling at the time. I had thought that discernment would be pleasing to God, and that the answer would therefore be immediate. However that was not the case. I spent a long time questioning why I believed that God would just give me an answer, and regretting the path of discernment. Now, when I read this verse, I am struck by a few new thoughts. First, “Jesus himself drew near… they saw him, but somehow did not recognise him”. In discernment, it can be easy to focus on where I am going, as opposed to where He is leading. This has a lot to do with the fact that sometimes God decides to walk alongside us. We grow frustrated at the lack of direction, as opposed to recognizing what He is telling us as we walk. Take each step and become aware of what He is trying to tell you. As He walks “Jesus explained to them what was said about Himself in all the Scriptures”. It is important, if not necessary, to stay connected to the Word of God while discerning. We often wait for an answer to appear in a feeling, as opposed to reading and allowing the Word of God to sustain us on this journey. I once heard someone say that “the Word of God breathes life”. His words are filled with power, so we need to read the Word to know Him, and understand what our vocation is. The same God who said, “Let there be light” and light appeared, is waiting to give us instruction and encouragement in Scripture. “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?’ He allows them to recount their confusion. It can be so hard to reach the stage of doubt and confusion when we are discerning our vocation or a decision. However, sometimes that time comes when we feel lost, and in a bit of a daze. The same way Jesus let the two disciples tell Him all they experienced, it’s important for us to live out our experience. To approach Him with our doubts and worries. We can do this through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This allows us to tell Him all we feel. This sacrament became a necessity for me, and it still is. To encounter Christ in a radical way. To tell Him all I feel. Approach Him and allow Him to listen to all You are going through. ‘Jesus acted as if He were going farther, but they held Him back’. The same way the disciples invited Jesus to join them (although they did not know who He was), we too must invite Jesus to join us in our discernment. There can be times when it feels like He is moving away from us, and in those moments, we need to call on Him all the more. ‘Then He broke the bread… Their eyes were opened’. They recognised Him in the breaking of the bread. Imagine if the disciples had not invited Him to stay? When discerning, we must always frequent the sacrament of the Eucharist. It is through this that we will begin to recognise Christ. Whether in Mass or Adoration, the more we witness Him in the Bread, the more we will begin to know ourselves. St. Teresa of Avila says, “we shall never completely know ourselves unless we seek to know God”. We need to seek Him to begin to see Him in us. It was in recognizing Him that the disciples believed and were compelled to tell all about what they had seen. As I reflect on the Road to Emmaus, I recognise that the journey of those two disciples is a life-long journey for me. With each step I know that Jesus will be with me, and as I read Scripture, tell Him all I feel, invite Him into my heart and seek to see His face, I will reach the end of my journey, knowing that I walked it with Him. Discernment is not so much about the destination or the final decision. It is rather about inviting God into the decision making process. Not only allowing Him to lead, but also allowing Him to be with you. As we see in this piece of Scripture, Jesus is both the travelling companion and the destination. He is both the road, and Emmaus. So allow Him to walk with you, as you walk towards Him. About the Author Nqobile Ngcobo I studied geology but I currently work in youth ministry. I love Jesus, coffee and pink roses. Above all, I’m just a catholic young woman trying to make it to heaven. I think St Therése and I will hang out there. I haven’t figured out how to adult yet, so until I do, I keep reminding myself that “Each woman who lives in light of eternity, can fulfill her vocation” – Edith Stein. Please pray for me, I’ll be praying for you.