Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The Gospel passage today is always about Jesus, our Good Shepherd. This day is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Mother Church appreciates each and every vocation, but on this day concentrates attention on vocations to the Ordained Ministries (priesthood and diaconate), to Religious life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life (summary from the US Bishops’ website). The Bishops’ website has many resources to help those who are discerning God’s call in their lives.
Of course, our primary vocation is the call to holiness, to being all that God has created us to be. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta explained, “Holiness is not a luxury for a few, but a simple duty for you and me.” The only way to fulfill that duty and to find fulfillment in our own lives is to recognize, accept and live Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, who is our Lord and Savior. This is Peter’s message in our first reading, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
Saint John encourages us in our second reading, “Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” We are God’s children, heirs to the Kingdom through the Blood of Jesus, our Good Shepherd. We are never left alone nor abandoned but Jesus constantly seeks us out and entices us by His sacrificial love. He laid down His life on the Cross for us. He took up His life again so that we might have life to the full.
How different is God’s real plan from the distracting and empty promises of this world. He not only wants to draw us intimately to Himself, He wants to send us out to bring Him to our brothers and sisters, whatever our vocation may be. We, His witnesses, are to be instruments of peace, to bring love where there is hate, pardon where there is injury, faith where there is doubt, hope where there is despair, light where there is darkness, joy where there is sadness. We, you and I, are to console, understand, love, give, pardon, and lay down our lives as the Master did.
It is a glorious and wonderful adventure: this call to holiness, this gift of discipleship, this mystery of our personal vocation. May we embrace Jesus, our Good Shepherd with every ounce of our strength and every fiber of our being. May we pray fervently for those called to ordained ministry and consecrated religious life. May those being called know of our loving support as they respond to God in faith and hope.
God bless you, God love you,