In the Catholic tradition, this Fourth Sunday after Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday and is dedicated as a Special Day of Prayer for Vocations to the priesthood and the Religious Life. In the Gospel, Jesus used two key images - shepherd and voice - to explain his invitation to discipleship.
In the Jewish culture, shepherding was more a way of life and relationship rather than a job. The life of the shepherd in biblical times was one of personal self-giving and sacrifice. His work was that of tender care and closeness to the flock. Knowing this, it makes sense why Jesus chose to identify himself as the Good Shepherd to explain the depth of God’s love and care for us. He loves us so much that he laid down his life for us.
“My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me.” Jesus calls and invites some people from among us to a life-long commitment as ministerial priests to shepherd the flock of God. He also calls each one of us to participate in the common priesthood and different vocations in life. It is difficult for many people today to hear and answer God’s call. Pope Benedict XI stated that there are too many voices in the world today calling for our attention and pulling us apart. Voices from people around us, cell phones, televisions, video games, social media, politics, etc. He cautioned us to be careful about whose voice guides us in our decisions and choices we make through life.
On this Day of Prayer for Vocations, we are invited to reflect on how we can take an active role in promoting vocation to the priesthood and different ministries within the Church. We can promote vocations by our prayers, encouraging our children and grandchildren to consider a vocation to the priesthood, deaconate or religious life. We can also support vocations financially by sponsoring a student in the Seminary.
Thank you and remain blessed,