Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Prayers for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and religious life are to be offered throughout this day.
Vocation means “calling.” (Think of voice, vocal, vocabulary, voca means “mouth”). We all have a calling, a vocation from the Lord, who is the Good Shepherd, when we choose to marry, enter the priesthood, diaconate, or religious life, we are answering the call of the Good Shepherd. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
In the First Reading (Acts 4:8-12) we witness the beginning of the mission, to which the Good Shepherd has called his Church, in the testimony of St. Peter, whom the Lord has appointed shepherd of His Church.
St. Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm, (today’s Psalm 118) is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. Peter was being tried by the leaders for healing a crippled beggar in the name of Jesus. “All of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands be- fore you healed” (Acts 4:10).
He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they re- jected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church.
The authorities ordered Peter to never speak of the name of Jesus ever again. As soon as they are released, Peter and John, and the other Apostles go right back to it. They cannot help themselves. They are filled with the Holy Spirit, and Peter is now the Shepherd who cannot abandon his flock.
Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks, and forgives sins, and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread. It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one Good Shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep... they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (cf John10).
If we allow ourselves to hear his call, we will be drawn to the way of life (our vo- cation) for which we were made for. Married life, Holy orders, Religious life, if we are called to that way of life, it is because the Shepherd is saying, “this is the way for you to be holy, the way to heaven for you.”
May the Good Shepherd send you all the graces you need to hear his call and to live your vocation, and may we be courageous and committed in our response.
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona