Wanted, Good Shepherds
4th Sunday of Easter (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

When I was studying outside of the country, I saw some ads that were put up by some institution or community in need of a minister. One ad went, “Wanted hospital chaplain; must have some experience and training in clinical pastoral education.” Another notice said, “ Wanted, coordinator of music and liturgy. Must be able to read music.” Another notice demanded higher qualifications, “Wanted, parish catechetical program animator. Must have a Master’s degree in theology.” It may seem strange for us here in the Philippines, but in some places, priests or religious actually do job hunting, within the parameters set by their congregations or superiors. Thus they look for this kind of advertisements.

Action starter: Are you into self-fulfillment or self-transcendence?

I imagine a parish here putting up this ad for a parish priest: Wanted, Good Shepherd. Basic qualification, an ordained priest. Must have a pleasant personality. Able to administer the parish with care and compassion. Must be able to preach clearly and dynamically. Will take time to visit and talk to parishioners. Has satisfactory administrative and financial skills. The list of qualifications may be extended to the following: will teach the social doctrines, willing to spend time in the confessional, will take time to visit the sick, a good community organizer, singer, entertainer, and more.

Some priests may have more talents and be able to perform many of these activities, but it is rare to find a jack of all trades and one who is blessed with multi-intelligence. It is not only the ordained priests who have the responsibility of shepherding. Parents, teachers, catechists, counselors, and lay leaders are acting as shepherds in some capacity. So do politicians, policemen, and business leaders.

This Sunday we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. This day is also designated as Vocation Sunday. Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11). As a good shepherd He lays down his life for his sheep. He is one who makes the ultimate sacrifice. He thinks more of the needs of the flock than his own. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of the good shepherd as one who feeds the flock rather than one who feeds on the flock. The Lord is so concerned about His people that he promised, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer. 3:15). “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed (Jer. 23.4).

In this age of self-fulfillment and pleasure-seeking the idea of self-transcendence or self-sacrifice needs once again to be emphasized. The early stages of life and the adolescent stage may be a time of self-seeking and self-discovery. However as one matures, more and more one’s concern should be the welfare of others. The problem with a self-indulgent society such as what is prevailing today in many places, is that some people cannot seem to leave perpetual adolescence. The paradox of self-transcendence is that those who sacrifice themselves find their true and nobler self. They who make the ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives that others may live are those who lay the foundation for a more humane and Godly world.

Wanted, good shepherds. Must be willing to sacrifice self for the sake of the flock.