The Good Shepherd Will Lead You to Eternal Life
This Sunday, the Fourth of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday and is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. JESUS tells us in today’s Gospel that He is the Good Shepherd Who knows His sheep and promises to lead them to eternal life so long as they remain safe in His care. Each member of the flock has free will and is capable of wandering away from Him and even rejecting Him. The world, the flesh and the devil are always trying to confuse us and lead us away from Our Lord. But if we pray and try to resist temptation He will guide us safely home. The Apostles risked their lives to preach this truth and in today’s First Reading they boldly proclaim that JESUS is the only Name under which we can be saved (Acts 4:12) – perhaps not very politically correct these days when it is claimed all religions are equally good, but the Apostles preached the truth.
Satan has attacked many noble institutions to try and bring about our downfall. One of his targets in this has been the priesthood. We are all aware of the many scandals of recent decades involving either sex, money or power. Our Lord in today’s Gospel speaks of the hired hands (a reference to the clergy), who when danger comes, either run away or behave like wolves in disguise. God will hold them accountable for their deeds, and for either abandoning their flocks or for deceiving the faithful by preaching false or compromised doctrines.
Vocations have also been under attack where Satan tries to prevent people from hearing and answering God’s call. One reason for the shortage of priests and religious is that many whom God calls simply don’t hear it because they are distracted by the attractions of this world, and with society having become so secular many are not interested in responding. The trap is that people can become so self-absorbed as to forget completely that we have to prepare now for eternity. It is for this reason the Church has an annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations so that the Church will have enough true shepherds to guide us, and all will realise they will only be truly happy when they answer the call of Our Lord. We are all members of Christ’s flock and whatever state of life He calls us to – priesthood, religious, married or single, we have an important contribution to make to the life of the Church and in the saving of souls.
JESUS is the Good Shepherd Who leads His sheep to safe pasture. Young people are attracted to the Church because they are seeking truth and the meaning of life, and JESUS and the Catholic Church which He founded is that truth. Let us pray ever more fervently for vocations to the priesthood and for male and female religious (the Prayer for Vocations is on the back of this newsletter) who will continue to feed the flock with the beauty of Christ’s truth. There is no other truth. JESUS said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Please also remember to pray for your priests that we be faithful servants of Our Lord and feed the flock entrusted to our care with that truth that leads to eternal life.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC