Grace to you!
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. Note also that this is the 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Let us unite with the Universal Church in praying for vocations—vocation to the priesthood, diaconate order and religious life….
At least four qualities of Christ as the Good Shepherd are evident from the Gospel of John 10:1-10.
1. He searches for the lust or those shut out of access to salvation (Jn 9:34-35), to bring them to greener pastures. Meditate on the message of Psalm 23—“The Lord is my shepherd.” Even when the sheep are strayed, God keeps searching and reaching out for them. Remember the three parables of forgiveness in Luke 15, also called the three parables of mercy. Hence we must pray for shepherds (Church leaders) whose primary call and desire is to follow the Good Shepherd, and search for, reach out to people who are away from the route of salvation. Care for souls is the primary call of the shepherd who follows the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd.
2. Jesus laid down his life for the sheep. To be a good shepherd is to be able to sacrifice for the sheep. Jesus, the good shepherd, bore the weaknesses of the sheep, suffered so the sheep can live. So we pray for vocations, and shepherds (Church leaders) who will be ready to be victims so that God’s children will find hope and peace. Pray for the grace of heroic sacrifice and service.
3. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads the way. “He goes before them and the sheep follow him…”(Jn 10:4). Meaning: Jesus was a true servant-leader who leads the way even when the route is rough and turbulent. We pray for shepherds who will be courageous to lead and serve as Christ did amidst the hazards connected with the priestly and religious life.
4. Finally, Jesus said he came that we will have the abundance of life. That is his mission as the Good Shepherd (see Jn 10:10). Though we can never give people “life to the fullest,” which is eternal life, we can be vehicles through which this grace, sanctifying grace, is granted to people. So we pray for vocation to the priesthood, so that no person, no matter where they live would be deprived of an opportunity to receive the sacraments and God’s Word, channels through which sanctifying grace, the seed of that eternal life, is bestowed on the soul.
Hence, if eternal life starts here with the seed of eternal life in our souls, and if the seed of eternal life comes through sanctifying grace, which reaches us through the sacrament and the Word; and if, without ordained ministers (especially the priest), we can’t have most of the sacraments, isn’t it necessary to pray for vocations to the sacred priesthood? As Saint Pope John Paul II said in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “Without the priest, there will be no Eucharist.” It follows then that without the priest, channels of sanctifying grace are highly limited. The need to pray for vocations is urgent.
Join me and ask the good shepherd to touch people’s hearts to say yes to the promptings of God to become priests, deacons and religious.
Pray too that those afraid of permanent union through the sacrament of the Holy Matrimony will embrace it. May they also be open to the full love and life, including procreation, which it entails. Amen
God love you. Bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Easter Fourth Sunday of Easter A: Good Shepherd Sunday: Reading Act 2:14 A, 36 – 41; 1 Peter 2: 20B –25, Jn 10:1- 10]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.