SUNDAY, FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER
Acts 13:14,43-52; Ps 100:1-3,5; Rv 7:9,14-17; Jn 10:27-30
LISTENING TO THE SHEPHERD’S VOICE!
The fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as the Good Shepherd Sunday and is designated as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. On Easter Sunday we recalled that in dying, Jesus destroyed our death and in rising he restored our life with God. The second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) took us to the upper room for a renewed friendship with Jesus through his merciful love. Last Sunday called our attention to the opportunity that Jesus gives us for a recommitment, by following the example of Peter who, despite his triple denial, was given a second chance. This fourth Sunday of Easter invites us to meet with the Good Shepherd. It is also an invitation for us to nurture our relationship with him by listening to his voice.
Moses and David, both prominent personalities in the Old Testament, were shepherds. Both received their vocation while tending their sheep. It is worth recalling that being a shepherd requires a lot of commitment as animals need daily care. There is no holiday in this profession. This is what Jesus our Good Shepherd did. He left Heaven to seek out and save us who are the lost sheep. A shepherd, in general, did not walk behind the flock beating them with a stick to keep them moving. He walked in front of them, seeking out a safe path to food, water and shelter, and the sheep gently followed him, because they recognized his voice, and they trusted him. Jesus as the Good Shepherd leads, and we follow. We Christians, although justified in the Sacrament of Baptism, continue throughout our lives to stray from God. We need the Good Shepherd.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us how some of the Israelites rejected the grace of God, resulting in the mission to the gentiles. The second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, tells us how the Lamb shall be the Shepherd of the saved, and he will guide them to the springs of the water of life. John describes the victor’s condition in two ways: the One who sits on the throne shelters them and protects them from all harm; the Lamb takes care of them and relieves them from all sorrow.
The word ‘vocation’ is derived from the Latin word “vocare,” from which we derive words like vocal, voice, volume, etc. It simply means ‘to call’. In the Church, there are two sacraments of vocation, through which God calls us to eternal life, namely, Matrimony (Christian Marriage) and Holy Orders (religious and single lives). The fourth Sunday of Easter however concentrates on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. On this day, we are especially asked, first of all, to pray that the Church may be provided with the leaders needed to do its work of spreading the Gospel. We know that at the present time, there is a critical shortage of such leaders, at least in the traditional sense – priests and religious. We even need to pray for married couples, for their vocation, as they too have a need to listen to each other as well as their children and thus build the domestic church.
Among so many voices in our world competing for our attention, life can be lived with greater purpose, direction, happiness and fulfillment if we are able to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling us. Each of us are being called by God to be what we need to be. This calling demands fidelity to God and to the task chosen for us through which we become evangelizers of the Good News. Let us spend some time praying to the Lord that we may be his good sheep, listening attentively to his voice, and following his example of self-giving love. Let us also pray for all our shepherds, especially our religious and political leaders. May they follow the example of Jesus who was willing to serve and lay down his life for his sheep. Let us pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, that many may be inspired to show true love to the point of sacrificing many other attractive options to become priests after the heart of Jesus, or to consecrate themselves to him as religious
Response: We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
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