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The heart of vocations: the Heart of our Good Shepherd

Homily for 4th Sunday of Easter year C 2013

Good Shepherd Sunday

  1. good shepherdWe are now on the 4th Sunday of Easter, also called Good Shepherd Sunday. Pope Paul VI established this day as a World Day of Prayer for Vocations. So we are hereby invited to spend sometimes praying to God the Father that ‘he would send more workers into his harvest’ [Mt 9:38] may it be priesthood, or religious life, or be a dedicated lay faithful.

  2. We can pray for vocations for two things. First, all of us, and more especially those who are called, that we may have a heart like that of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. To aid us in our prayer for vocations in the pattern of the heart of the Shepherd, first, we need to know how it is to have a heart like that of our Good Shepherd? Jesus in our gospel today assures us, his sheep: ‘I know them…I give them eternal life…they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.’ [Jn 10:28]. Our Good Shepherd knows us intimately and  is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of his sheep. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus understands our needs, our vulnerabilities, our helplessness, and our tendencies. So he tends and cares for us with utmost care. He even lay down his life for all of us.  He embraced death to provide us, his sheep protection, assurance and security. Pope Francis is one who has impressed me so much since the beginning of his ministry as the Bishop of Rome and as Pope of the Catholic Church. For me, he’s got a heart like that of the Good Shepherd. When he was elected Pope, he said to the Argentinian, not to spend so much money to get to Rome for his inauguration, but rather to give the money to the poor in Argentina. He sees the immediate and the real need of his people over what he might need himself. This was a news then, so on Facebook, I saw a picture of him with a caption telling the Argentinians: ‘Don’t fly for me Argentina.’ The other thing Pope Francis did  was on the news the other day. It is reported that every time  there is a changeover of Pope or if a new Pope is elected, the Vatican employees would receive a bonus. It’s a good one, a good move indeed. But Pope Francis didn’t do it this time. Instead he decided that the money given for the bonus (a good few millions in dollars I heard) is to be given to the Church’s works of Charity. He would know that the Vatican employees want it, but he understands that the poor need it more. Such is an example of a person with a heart that of a Good Shepherd- one who distinguishes wants from needs.

  3. The Second thing that can aid us in our prayer for this World Day of prayer for vocations is to pray that we may have the willingness to hear the voice of God calling us to follow his example in our lives. Willingness is an important clue in here, because this involves our freedom, our decision and our motivation to follow him. To willingly listen to God today is crucial and important because of the many voices and noise we hear everyday. I have noted this challenge in my homily last Sunday too. Let me repeat it. ‘Listening to Jesus today is not easy because of the many voices we hear that tend to drown his voice. There are voices that oftentimes lead us to think more for ourselves and less for others. There are voices that call us to be DOING more and BEING less. There are voices that push us to believe life is more of doing something rather than being who we are and enjoying what we’ve got. There are voices that lead us to hoard and keep rather than give and share.’

  4. It is so true that that not a few so-called ‘shepherds’  who have been entrusted to tend a portion of God’s flock failed, or looked after themselves first while neglecting the others, or have even broken the trust and the promises they’ve made when they took office. It is also very true that there are shepherds whom God called but are not really living out their vocation well and not listening to the voice of Jesus. This is not a new thing. This has always been an experience in our faith journey. The prophet Ezekiel had to remind the King- shepherds of Israel in his time that they had harshly and brutally fattened themselves instead of their sheep, fed off the sheep’s milk, worn their wool, but hadn’t strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bound up the injured, brought back the strayed or sought the lost [Ez 34:1-6]. However, there are also a good number who are in their own little ways doing their bit to follow the lead of our Good Shepherd. Paul and Barnabas in our First Reading today set us an example here. They continually preached the message of Jesus to Jews and Gentiles alike, no matter if they accepted it or rejected it. They continued spreading the gospel despite oppositions from others, and personal obstacles too. The other example I can give is about the two priests I personally know in the Philippines. One time I was assigned into the parish of one of these priests. He wasn’t there. I was told by the parish secretary that he was up there in the mountain, visiting his parishioners with his ute bringing several containers of water to be distributed to the people there. Apparently, there was no access of clean water in that part of this parish. So he went up there to give them water himself. The second priest I know and even worked with before, is another one who really listened to the voice of Jesus and followed him. This priest would go to the little villages in the parish regularly, collect the recyclables from each households, sell them to the junkshops in town. He then used the proceeds to buy medicine or other immediate need for the people in the village and stock them in village community centre for everyone who might need them anytime.

  5. So as we continue this day, this World day of prayer for Vocations let us pray that all of us who are called to be shepherds in our own little way, to our little flock (may it be a home, a school, workplace, or community) may love to listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd, may have a heart like his, and may follow his lead and example in our lives. Amen.



One comment on “The heart of vocations: the Heart of our Good Shepherd

  1. […] The heart of vocations: the Heart of our Good Shepherd (junjunfaithbook.com) […]

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