THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(Good Shepherd Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations)
"God has, in fact, thought of us from eternity and has loved us as unique individuals.
Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. It's World Day of Prayer for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The image of the Good Shepherd is employed to showcase the relationship between us and Jesus Christ. This concept is borrowed from the Old Testament which describes the caring relationship between God and His people Israel.
(Download the official World Day of Prayer for Vocations prayer card HERE.)
Peter, in the first reading, boldly indicated that salvation comes from nowhere other than through Christ Jesus, who is the good shepherd, whom the authorities rejected and crucified. But through His wounds we have been redeemed of all the effects of sin and have been brought back to the Chief Shepherd. Based on this the Apostles preach the good news of the resurrection and heal in His name.
So in the second reading John wrote to the Judeo-Christian community to defuse the false doctrines among them. Some refused to accept the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus and also denied the redemptive value of Jesus’ death. He affirms that we have the privileges of being the children of God through His son Jesus Christ. We must live as such by listening to the voice of His son, Jesus Christ, and follow Him.
Lastly, in the Gospel reading Jesus uses the image of the good shepherd to describe Himself and His relationship with us. As the good shepherd He knows us individually. He guides and protects us. He loves us personally and intimately. However, He does not force us to listen to His voice. It's only an invitation to follow Him freely, it's a choice to respond or not, for not only a fullness of life but also fullness of His life.
Beloved in Christ, our challenge is to recognize His voice and respond accordingly with knowledge and trust of this good Shepherd. We must answer His call in faith, with gratitude and loyalty. Just follow where He leads you to.
We also have the responsibilities to be good shepherds in our relationships, families and society by our words and deeds as we live a trustworthy life.
In most overwhelming situations in your life like this COVID-19 take consolation and strength from what the Psalmist has said, ”The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” Psalm 23:1. He knows you by name. He has not forgotten about you!
Remember to pray for vocation to the priesthood and to the permanent diaconate. Pray also for your priests and appreciate them.
Just be a good sheep! The Good Shepherd loves you deeply.
Be safe... PRAY... Keep the Faith... Stay Healthy...
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.