Theme: Recognising The Shepherd’s voice
The Church celebrates the fourth Sunday of Easter as The Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also vocations Sunday. The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to fulfil publicly the Lord’s instruction, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2), because each year John Chapter 10 is read.
The Gospel Acclamation from Jn10:14 insists, “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my own sheep and my own know me”. In effect, Jesus was not called “A” Good Shepherd, but “The” Good Shepherd. In John 10:1-10 Jesus is presented not only as The Shepherd, but also as The Sheepfold Gate. Everyone passes through Him and all who enter through Him will be saved. He distinguishes between the Thief and The Good Shepherd: A thief comes only to “steal and kill and destroy”. However, Jesus, The Good Shepherd, has come “So that they may have life and have it to the full”. Unlike some who flee when faced with danger, He gave up His life for the sheep in His care. This is why He is The Good Shepherd.
As Jesus’ sheep we must follow Him because we know His voice. We hear thousands of voices, lots of talk, yelling and loud music. We hear many voices today, but, unfortunately, we do not hear the voice of “The Shepherd.”
From Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, 171, we learn that it is important to listen. “We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives…”
Vocation is all about recognising the Shepherd’s voice and responding to it. The Church concentrates her attention this day on those who are called in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life, in the particular sense of mission “ad gentes”. Many have responded to this call by joining. Many are still to respond. Many have drifted from what they are to listen to. Many vocations end up prematurely because we do not take the pains to recognise The Shepherd’s voice. The Church nurtures vocations through rigorous training so that the called should become good shepherds for the flock, the Christians. However, we must pray for those who still remain bad shepherds. They have not followed Christ’s example and cannot lead others.
By Rev. Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh Basebang, cmf
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