This weekend we are invited to consider Jesus as our Good Shepherd and pray for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life.
The well known Psalm – ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ – set the tone for our prayer and reflection. While we may not be too happy at being called sheep, there is so much we can learn from the Scripture references. Sheep are mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible, more than any other animal.
Sheep and goats were very important as sources of wool, milk, and meat and in the many stories served as symbols for God’s people. Jesus is portrayed as the shepherd, the protector and leader of the flock. Sheep are followers – are we not followers of Christ? They say that sheep recognise faces and voices of those who work with them. They remember who treats them well or badly, as the case may be. Sheep find safety in numbers and when grazing will always keep a close eye on others so not the be left alone. A lost sheep will fret and does not do well alone. (So ends the lecture on shepherding) When we begin to apply some of the above details to our understanding of Jesus as our Shepherd, it will help us to appreciate what what’s in his mind as he spoke to his listeners and now to us.
Jesus as Good Shepherd is the one who cares, watches, guides, protects and calls us by name to follow him. We need to be able to listen to his voice and be able to distinguish it from others. There are so many voices ‘out there’ that can distract us from hearing the voice of Jesus. There may be some whom he is calling to service in the priesthood or religious life and are unable to respond because of not hearing his voice clearly.
As ever we begin with ourselves and ask the Lord to deepen our commitment to him in our calling in life. Each one of us is called to serve in our own particular way. It is in this context that we pray that ‘the Lord of the harvest will send labourers into his vineyard’. Pope Francis’ message for world day of prayer for vocation calls us to build the human family. In his Message the Holy Father encourages every person in the Church to give the very best of themselves “in this great divine plan!” He says: “when we speak about vocations, we are speaking about making God’s dream come true.”
We will have Colette as a guest speaker at Mass this weekend to share briefly one story of the pursuit of a vocation.
That’s all for now. Have a blessed week, Fr Joe