4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER: GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY AND
53RD WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS
This coming Sunday is the Good Shepherd Sunday, which is at the same time the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
In the Gospel of the Mass (Jn 10:11–18), Jesus presents Himself as the Good Shepherd of His flock which is the entire human race, non-Christians included. As the Good Shepherd: He “lays down his life for the sheep”; He knows his flock and his flock knows him; He is also concerned with “the other sheep which do not belong to this fold” and thus, He is at the service of the unity of “one flock and one shepherd.”
These are the characteristics of the Good Shepherd: total self-giving; intimate knowledge and union with his flock; sincere concern and at the service of unity among all men.
- TOTAL SELF-GIVING has to be carried out not just once, but rather, daily, as Christ does in the Holy Eucharist. For this SELF-FORGETFULNESS is absolutely necessary, for if one is enclosed in his own world and concerns, he would be incapable of noticing the needs of the flock entrusted to Him by Our Lord.
- INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP AND UNION WITH THE FLOCK which Jesus carried out, first, through PRAYER, asking God for each one of us; then through his COMPASSION and GENEROUS SERVICE towards everyone, especially those who were lost and in most need: the sinners, the sick, the poor, the lonely.
- SINCERE CONCERN AND UNIVERSAL SERVICE TO ALL MEN, knowing that Jesus has come in order to save us all: not only the just, but above all, the sinners; not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well. This can be translated by asking God to grant us a huge and merciful (forgiving) heart where all can fit in, not only our family and loved ones, but those whom we don’t know and EVEN those who are against us or who have caused us harm.
Dear friends, let us ask Our Lord for the CONVERSION AND HOLINESS OF PRIESTS AND ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEMSELVES TO GOD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD AND IN THE RELIGIOUS LIFE: monks, nuns, lay and religious missionaries and ministers…LET US ALSO ASK WITH FAITH AND CONSTANCY SO THAT OUR LORD SEND MORE VOCATIONS TOWARDS PRIESTHOOD, RELIGIOUS LIFE AND APOSTOLIC CELIBACY. Priests, religious, laymen and women who struggle daily to:
– to fall in love more with Jesus;
– imitate His life and virtues;
– who pray daily and frequent the sacraments;
– who strive daily to forget themselves;
– who give themselves at the SERVICE of all men and women who are entrusted to them by God;
– who give good example to their flock;
– and, who are faithful till the end for love of God.
We must not forget as well that ALL OF US HAVE THE TASK OF BEING THE GOOD SHEPHERD TO OTHERS: parents to their children, teachers to their students, friends to their friends, leaders to their constituents…and the list goes on. Let us ask Him THE GRACE OF BEING UNITED TO THE ONE AND ONLY GOOD SHEPHERD, imitating His example as we carry out our task of tending, feeding and loving our fold.
And lastly, WE ARE ALL SHEEP AS WELL! That we may be DOCILE, OBEDIENT, ATTENTIVE SHEEP to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd at all times through His chosen instruments!
Have a great weekend and God bless you and your loved ones!
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ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE: Nathan Green (painter), “The Good Shepherd” which can be ordered and bought at different sizes and editions in https://www.nathangreene.com/fullsize/120/23 (All rights belong to Hart Classics Edition: this picture was used only for didactic/educational purposes with advertising benefits for the painter as well.)
SUGGESTED MATERIAL FOR MEDITATION:
Benedict XVI, Homily, May 7, 2006, in http://w2.vatican.va/…/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20060507_priestly-ord…