Good Shepherd Sunday, or Vocation Sunday
Homily Reflection by Fr. JJ Fenelon
Sunday 3 May 2020
4th Sunday of Easter – Yr A
For today’s Gospel reading click the link below
(Acts 2:14. 36-41, 1 Peter 2:20-25, John 10:1-10)
Today is called Good Shepherd Sunday, and, appropriately, this day is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today, the Church calls us to reflect on the meaning of God’s call for each of us and to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life, because the entire Christian community shares the responsibility for fostering vocations.
Both the Old and New Testaments use the image of a Shepherd and His flock to describe the unique relationship of God with Israel and Christ with Christians.
It is because the readings of today talk about the Good Shepherd who is Jesus Christ, ready to lay down His life for us, ready to defend life, ready to spread life, ready to give His whole life for His sheep every day. A true leader models his/her leadership on the Good Shepherd. That is why in our Gospel today Jesus gives us the criteria of a true and genuine leadership.
The Good Shepherd who is Jesus Christ, ready to lay down His life for us, ready to defend life, ready to spread life, ready to give His whole life for His sheep every day.
In the 1st reading, St. Peter’s first sermon, given on Pentecost exhorts his listeners to know beyond any doubt that the One they have allowed to be crucified is the true Shepherd, whom God has made both Lord and Messiah. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, they will receive forgiveness for their sins.
The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 23), introduces Yahweh as the Good Shepherd of Israel and describes all of the things the Lord does for us, His sheep, in providing for our needs.
In the 2nd reading, St Peter in his 1st Letter to the Church, continues the “shepherd” imagery. Peter encourages the suffering Christians to follow in footsteps of their shepherd (“suffering servant”), and to remember that they have been claimed by him. Peter also explains how Jesus, the innocent sufferer, was a model of patience and trust in God, and he reminds us that it is Jesus’ suffering which has enabled us to become more fully children of God.
In today’s Gospel, two brief parables about sheep reveal Jesus as our unique means to salvation. He is the selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides protection and life itself, and he is the “sheep gate,” the one gateway to eternal life.
A lot of us feel boxed in by life, especially our current situation. From 7 April our circuit-breaker(lockdown) started. It was supposed to end on 4 May but got extended to 1 June. It must have been very frustrating for many of us. The “Normal” has been taken away from us. Our options we tell ourselves are limited. Together with the other Crosses we carry, burdens are heavy and consequently anxiety leads to depression.
Along comes Jesus the Shepherd to tell us, “I am the gate.” In another spot, He repeats the point, “I have opened a gate in front of you.” Jesus the Good Shepherd reminds us to be strong in faith.
The Lamb who died to save us is also the Shepherd who lives to lead us.
Jesus often used the imagery of shepherds and sheep to show his care for others. He, the Good Shepherd, now develops the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. The imagery is old but the message is still relevant to us. By our trust in Jesus, our relationship with him is alive and personal, like the love that unites Jesus himself with the Father. Our whole faith is founded on God’s love and faithfulness.
By our trust in Jesus, our relationship with him is alive and personal, like the love that unites Jesus himself with the Father. Our whole faith is founded on God’s love and faithfulness.
To share in eternal life we must listen to Jesus and obey him. Self-centredness can intervene to make us deaf to the voice of Jesus. We can be drawn to follow an easier path than the one he has traced. Pressures to abandon our principles come and go. But we trust that our faithful Shepherd will not let us be tempted beyond our strength; nothing can tear us away from him. The same God who upheld Jesus and raised him from the dead will also keep us by his care.
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us begin, or continue, especially in these most stressful times for the Church and ourselves, to pray earnestly for continued conversion and perseverance in the Faith for our bishops, priests, deacons, those living a consecrated life, and all of the laity, for we are One Body.
As we contemplate Jesus the Good Shepherd today, we pray that many may listen to the voice of Jesus as he calls, that they may enter the sheepfold through him and be safe and have life and live it to the fullest. We pray that many will say to God like Mary, “Be it done unto me according to your word.”