Bulletin Article for 4thSunday of Easter and Reflection by Fr. Enzie Lagattuta
Each year on the 4th Sunday of Easter – often called Good Shepherd Sunday – the Church invites us to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. This is a perfect time to reflect on the power and presence of Jesus in our lives as the Good Shepherd.
The Church values all vocations: the vocation of the single life, the vocation of marriage and family life, as well as the vocation of the priesthood and consecrated life as a Religious sister, brother or priest.
We ask God to help young people to respond generously to the call of the Holy Spirit in deepening their faith and choosing their vocation in life – whatever that vocation may be. Nurtured by parents who are models of a truly Christian life, young people become open, receptive, and responsive to the direction God may be guiding them toward in their future.
God is always a gentleman – he never forces himself or his will on anyone. But he knows that his will for each one of us is the best possible path for us. And so he provides opportunities to incline our hearts to be caring and loving of others, to be of service and work for justice, and to come to know and appreciate his love for us personally.
That love is so great that he has given us the image of the shepherd to describe how he attends to our needs, guides and protects us from the evil one, and goes after us when we stray.
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd. Unlike the hired hand, who is not committed to the sheep, we must be willing to give our whole lives to the care of one another. This is true for all of us, but it is especially true for priests.
Priests are ordinary men who are called to do something extraordinary and whom the Lord is transforming every day. We are called to be with God’s people, to identify with their trials of life, and to always listen to the voice of the Christ, the Good Shepherd.
It’s important that we learn how to distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the evil one, who will do anything to mimic the sound of the Good Shepherd to lead us astray. We cannot fall for that deceit. We must remain close to the shepherd of our souls who knows what we need and will lead us to heaven.
Reflect for a few minutes on who have been shepherds in your life. It could be anyone who has believed in you and who modeled for you how to live life in a grace-filled way. Perhaps a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a family member, or even a priest, sister, or brother has shepherded you.
Lastly, to whom are you called to shepherd – to guide – to encourage – always leading with patience and love? Who depends on you?