Today the Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday and the 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Let us join the whole world together in prayer and thanksgiving for the gift of our vocation that we have received from Him who has called us to a particular vocation in life.
This Good Shepherd is Jesus. He is a good example of a humble leader and He is a merciful, compassionate, loving, zealous holy worker in the large harvest. Above all, He has a heart that is full of love for His flock, we the ones who are following Him.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
This Good Shepherd offers His whole life to us and His being is centred on God – all for the good of the sheep. He gives us life because He loves us all. Giving His love to us is the greatest joy of His heart. He is taking care of us so that not one will go astray from the flock. It is His big sacrifice to be present always and attentive to the needs of the sheep. With all His might and protection He is there to help us avoid anything that could possibly harm us or place us in any kind of danger. He searches and rescues any one that gets lost and disappears from His sight. He loves doing His work because we are His beloved flock, always under His tender, loving care and attention. He cares for all, even those who do not belong to Him. For these reasons, we know and love Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
Observing the persona of a good shepherd can show us a beneficial way to choose a leader in a small or big group, and in an organisation. The person chosen to be a leader should have a good reputation and the qualities of guiding and caring for people where he/she:
- Is a person of God with integrity and honour;
- Has time for God and lives a life of faith, always about God’s business;
- Strives to do all according to God’s will in her/his life and family, and with truth and right;
- Has a passion to give the best in his/her work and seeks a good quality of service for God and for the betterment of all;
- Has a heart that listens to those who are in need and lends a hand to those in difficulty; and
- Is people-oriented and has an understanding on how to take care of them.
This is the kind of good shepherd I contemplate. This shepherd of our time is a good and holy labourer for God.
We, as God’s workers, are challenged to become holy followers too. Collaborating with Him and bringing God’s works of love in living His heart’s desires will lead us to the holiness of life. Holiness is the universal calling of God to all of us. Therefore, let us continue to put our hands together and bend our knees to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send holy vocations. If some answer God’s call to married life then husband and wife are to act and love each other as married people. If others are called by God to the single life then live and love as single blessed persons. If some of us answer God’s call to the priesthood, religious life and other forms of consecrated life then live and love for God and neighbour. The vocation to which God calls us and our faithfulness in answering and living that calling will bring us joy and hope to fully experience and offer our life in the service of Him and others.
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us read the Holy Father’s message, and pray for our ongoing growth towards sanctification and a generous faithful response to the calling and life which God has entrusted to us. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will continue shepherding us to green pastures, with the abundance of His love for us. Let us, then, visibly intensify our daily loving service towards God and others where we always try to focus on being active witnesses to God’s work in our life. May our love for Jesus, the Good Shepherd and Master of the Harvest, be visible and increase day by day, slowly diminishing our selfishness and ego so that all that remains is Christ in our life.
The following prayer is denoted especially for youth but should be prayed for and by people of all ages, because the Good Shepherd feeds, guides and cares for all His sheep:
Prayer to Jesus the Good Shepherd for Youth
O Jesus, Good Shepherd,
Receive our praise and our humble thanksgiving
For all the vocations which You continually
Give to Your Church through Your Spirit.
Assist the Bishops, the Priests, the Missionaries,
And all the persons consecrated to You.
May they give an example of a truly evangelical life.
Make strong and persevere in their resolve
Those who are in formation for the sacred ministry
And the consecrated life.
Multiply the labourers of the Gospel
So they may proclaim to all peoples.
Watch over the young members of our families
And our communities: grant them readiness
And magnanimity in following You.
Turn Your eyes on them and call them.
Grant to all those You have called
The courage of leaving everything
That they may choose only You, the real love.
Forgive the lack of response and the infidelities
Of those whom You have chosen.
Hear, O Christ, our invocations
Through the intercession of Mary most holy,
Your Mother and Queen of Apostles who,
Having believed and generously responded,
Has been the cause of our joy.
With Your presence and Your example,
Accompany those You call to the total service
Of Your kingdom.
(Let us pray for vocations, pp 47-48, #25)
A Happy Mother’s Day!
Australia celebrates Mother’s Day today so let us also pray for our mothers, including those who have been spiritual mothers to others, and for the mothers who have been called home to God. On this day of prayer for vocations, let us particularly consider this little reflection on Mother Mary:
Mary Sparked Her Son’s Vocation
One could imagine a Jewish mother of a single son, while attending a wedding, might nudge her son to go dance with the young women perhaps because she is ready for grandchildren! Not so with Mary at the wedding in Cana. She, of course, knew her son’s divine origins and suspected his divine mission. So instead, she sparked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as well as his priestly ministry, because turning water into wine was a foreshadowing of him turning wine into his Blood. Thus, we see in Mary an example of a mother who not only nurtured life, but also nurtured a vocation. — Preaching about Vocations on Mother’s Day, Vianney Vocations