Good Shepherds
Good Shepherds

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

Today, in the Gospel Reading, Jesus tells his followers, “I am the Good Shepherd.” He assures them that He knows them just as He knows the Father. As sheep in His fold, we feel protected, knowing that He gave His own life for us. He says that He has other sheep that are not of this fold and that these sheep He also has to gather together. Our primary mission, as Christians, is to help our Church to maintain the flock united. Yet bringing others to the fold is also a task that each one of us has. If we do these two things well, we will be able to form one flock under one shepherd, Christ.

Sisters and Brothers, today is the World Day of Prayer for Priestly Vocations, celebrated each year on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Sunday of the Good Shepherd. The task of each priest is to be a good shepherd, to be well familiarized with his sheep, the Christians who belong to his parish, and to defend them from the ferocious wolves who try to attack the flock and take them out of the fold. He should be like Jesus, prepared to give his life, if necessary, to defend his flock, remembering the reward that Christ gives to those who surrender themselves to Him.

Today is a day of prayer, asking God, in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, for more vocations to the priesthood. Many times there are young men who hear the call of the Lord but in the family, in their surroundings, even in their own parish community, they do not encounter enough support for that calling to bear fruit. They go around disoriented without knowing to whom they should go. We have to give them our support and show them that when they hear the call there is nothing greater than renouncing those things that the world has to offer and giving up everything for Him. And we have to remind them that they will have to be very strong so as to remove obstacles and sidestep stumbling blocks.

We know that preparing for the priesthood is a task of self-giving that demands fidelity to God and to oneself. Whoever is ready to follow Christ demonstrates it by trying to live an exemplary life in the midst of a world that is filled with voracious wolves. That is why, if we see a young man who makes us think that he might have the right stuff, family, friends, parish priest, and the entire community, should support him so that his vocation will take root. The young man will have to understand that, if he is ready to enter the seminary, he will have to give himself over completely to his vocation. There will be many years of study, of spiritual and moral trials and much sacrifice before he gets to his priestly ordination. And that is as it should be. To be a good priest one must be well prepared, ready to defend the sheep. He will also have to protect himself from the many dangers that life will throw at him. And, most importantly, he will have to forget himself, looking out for the good of others. He should remember the phrase that Christ said, “I give my life for my sheep.”

Each church community is a flock. And we are members of that flock. As parishioners we have to put in our grain of sand, showing, first of all with works, that the center of our life is the Good Shepherd, Christ. Next, we have to promote harmony and unity in the community so that its members feel comfortable and happy within it. All together, we will have to strengthen it. So, when the wolves come, and I am sure that they will come, and want to separate us from our Church and our faith, they will not be able to take away even one sheep. With unity and good harmony we will be able to maintain, for Christ, one flock under one shepherd. Let us remember that Jesus gave His life for us. He is our Savior, the Good Shepherd.