The Fourth Sunday of Easter has been termed “ Good Shepherd Sunday” In more recent years however, It has also been the day for universal prayer for vocations. Instituted by Pope Paul VI, today it has been 51 years since it was instituted. For 51 years, and for a long time more, we will continue to ask God to send Labours into the harvest.
Not only does todays Gospel call for us to engage in a unique relationship with God but it also given us comfort and peace. One of the most famous images of Jesus, I would argue, is the image of him carrying the lamb around his neck. Bring that one lamb back to safety. Traditionally, the shepherd would never travel in front of the sheep because sheep could travel off in any direction, and so, the shepherd traveling in the back, would be there help re-guide the sheep.
Jesus instituted a relationship with you, me and all of us on the day that he died on the cross. He went upon that cross and suffered greatly without having self-merit. By dying on the cross, and rising from the dead, Christ showed his immense love for us and his total commitment to this relationship. He died so that we can be free. He died so that we can be with him for eternity.
Like any relationship Jesus needs our commitment. A commitment of loyalty, and faithfulness. He wants us to follow him. He is the good shepherd. But sometimes, like sheep, we can get off track and head in a different direction. Why? Because we live in a world that seeks to break all the rules, that seeks self-righteousness, self-merit, self-gain. We live in a world that is missing God and that is missing priests. ( at least in this part of the world)
Our challenge is to follow Christ’s example. To live a life of self-sacrifice without self-merit, or being self-righteous. Jesus didn’t come to earth into a big palace; he came in a small, cold, wooden stable. From the poor wood of the stable that he was born he would be crucified. WE must, as the Second reading says, “Endure when you do right and suffer for it” Our mission is to live a life the is Christ centred- and not world centred. We must go against the norms of society and show our commitment to our relationship with Christ.
We the sheep of Jesus, listen to his voice, because he is the Good Shepherd. We can become distracted however from this message. We can become confused and perplexed. Who is this thief or stranger in your life? Who is this person that does not enter through the gate and tries to lead you elsewhere? Is this person growing your relationship with yourself and God? Or are they destroying it?
Now, who is the Good Shepherd to you? Who leads you in this life? Who helps you and your relationship with God? More likely than not, you probably thought of a priest or multiple priests, (like I did) Pray for them. Whoever is the Good shepherd to you. Thank God for them in prayer.
The mission of any shepherd is to lead his sheep to green pastures for them to eat. Green pastures means life. Jesus leads us to Green Pastures also. He leads us to life everlasting, when we show our commitment to him, who goes before us.
Christ yearns to have a faithful relationship with us. Every time we turn away, or leave his path, he calls us by name, showing his love and commitment to us. He shows his love to us and waits for our return. Christ called us first and it is our decision whether or not to listen to his compassionate call of our name.
Today, on Good shepherd Sunday, may we come to grow our relationships in our life. May we come to find Christ in our life. May we, come a grow our relationship with God. Christ initiated this relationship and awaits us to come and follow him. Who is that Good Shepherd in your life? May we come to pray for priests. We need priests to be guiders, and protectors of our relationship with God and the church. Pray for Priests!
Have a good Sunday!
P.S I wrote out this post four times. This being the fifth.
I hope it makes sense, because the other four didn't.
Thats why this post is late.