Good Shepherd Sunday
Jesus, our Good Shepherd invites every one of us to follow him and know his voice. This weekend is when we pray for vocations to the priestly, the religious and consecrated life. We pray that the Lord will send labourers into his vineyard and that he will provide leaders to guide his flock.
The Shepherding we see today on Countryfile or Sheepdog Trials is different than in Jesus’ day. Shepherds did not ‘drive’ their sheep; they walked ahead of them and the sheep followed. The sheep knew their shepherd and vice versa. The sheep knew their shepherd was leading them to new pastures, to water and to safety from wolves etc.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes himself as that type of shepherd, leading us, his flock, to new pastures, to nourishment in Word and Sacrament. We are known to him individually and by name, hence our Christian name. He was willing to give his life for us, thus showing his total love for us his flock.
We are invited to do likewise. Self-giving is the key. In all walks of life, dedicated people find fulfilment in the giving of themselves. For many, their lives are more than just a livelihood, it is a calling and sadly we applied ‘vocation’ only to the priestly, religious and consecrated life. So many discover their vocation in the experience of parenthood or in dedication to care for others in so many ways. It is in the wider context of ‘vocation’, that we can enhance the religious vocation.
So it is in this context we join in the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The Lord is calling many people. It is not easy to hear that call in the midst of so many distractions.
A case in point: last Monday, Colette came to join the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity to discern her vocation in life by living and observing the life of a Verbum Dei Community. We too, as a parish community have a part to play in that process for Colette.
I am pondering what it is I will be celebrating in some weeks’ time – 50 years of priesthood. What are the key elements I should be thankful for? How could I have done better? I have much to ponder in those coming days.
Today, there is also the matter of finance. We are asked to support the fund for the training of future priests. There are 18 students for the Diocese of Westminster. The full board, tuition and general up keep involve over £25K per student per year. What more needs to be said.
Have a blessed week ahead, Fr Joe