Father Nathan Homily |
Fourth Sunday of Easter | April 25, 2021
Good Shepherd Sunday
Fourth Sunday of Easter
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
— Jn 10:11
Good Shepherd Sunday + World Day of Prayer For vocations
“The Good Shepherd is the one who lays down his life for his sheep…”
– John 10:11
Today, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we are invited to reflect on the meaning of God’s call and to pray for vocations to the service of the Church and its mission.
Vocation – A Call to Serve Others
To help us reflect on the meaning of vocation – a call to serve others – the Church, in today’s Gospel, presents us with the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Today, we celebrate the risen Lord as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. The priest in charge of a parish is called a pastor because “pastor” means shepherd. As a shepherd, he leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects Christ’s sheep, the people of the parish.
The earliest Christians saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish dream of a Good Shepherd. They also wished to include the Gentiles as part of God’s flock.
Does this Sound Familiar? ♥
“The TV is my shepherd; I shall not want. It makes me to lie down on the sofa. It leads me away from the faith; it destroys my soul. It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake. Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities; there will be no interruption, for the TV is with me. Its cable and remote control, they comfort me. It prepares a commercial for me in the midst of my worldliness and anoints my head with secular humanism and consumerism. My covetousness runs over; Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.”
Be a Good Shepherd
In biblical times there were two kinds of shepherds.
The hired gun – There was the hired hand for whom minding the sheep was no more than a job. He would move from one flock to another depending on the conditions of service, but would never dream of risking his life for the sheep. If he saw wolves or thieves approaching, he would flee for dear life and leave the flock to the mercy of the robbers.
Shepherd Owner – Then there was the shepherd-owner of the flock who stayed with the same flock all his life. He knew every sheep in his flock individually.
He could call each one by name and relate the life story of each one – when and where it was born, the difficulties it had gone through, its temperament, and particular traits.
The Shepherd-Owner was devoted to his sheep. He knew the one likely to lag behind the others on a long trek, and he would lift it up and carry it on his shoulders or in his arms. He knew the one that was likely to stray from the flock and kept his eye out for it when passing through dangerous terrain. When attacked by wolves or thieves, he would fight to protect his sheep and even lay down his life for them.
‘laying down his life for his sheep’
The expression ‘laying down his life for his sheep’ comes from the practice in Israel of keeping the sheep in an enclosed space with just a narrow opening for the sheep to go in and out. At night, the shepherd would lie down and stretch his body across the opening so that the sheep would not wander out or wolves enter in.
If one of the flock went missing, he would climb mountains and hills looking for it, calling out its name. And whether the missing sheep had fallen into a pit or was trapped in a bush of thorns, as soon as it heard the voice of its master, it would bleat and the shepherd would go and rescue it.
Celebrate Good Shepherds
As we celebrate the good shepherds, let us Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others should need to understand that we need to become a shepherd. Hence pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, bosses, politicians are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents, health, and wealth for their welfare, and guarding them against physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties as shepherds, becoming role models for their children by leading exemplary lives.
World Day of Prayer For vocations
Let us pray for vocations to the Priesthood, the diaconate, and the consecrated life so that we may have more holy and Spirit-filled shepherds to lead, feed, and protect the Catholic community.
Christ Jesus is the Priest in the full sense because He is the one mediator between God and humanity who offered Himself, a unique sacrifice, on the cross.
The universal priesthood of all believers, the sharing of all the baptized in the priesthood of Christ, has received special emphasis since Vatican II. Those who are called to make a lifelong commitment to serve, as ordained ministers, share the ministerial priesthood of Jesus.
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we are asked to encourage and pray for our young men to respond to God’s call to serve His Church in the ministerial priesthood.
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