Christian communities- the “flock”

Sunday, April 17, 2016

 Christian communities- the “flock”
Good Shepherd Sunday

Today the Church celebrates World prayer for Vocations day on the 4th Sunday of Easter on which the gospel proclaimed is that of the Good Shepherd. This is certainly appropriate as our priests and pastors have always been called “shepherds of the flock,” as the congregation is referred to.

In the gospel today, Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd who is called to be so by His Father  “The Father and I are one.”  His call has radical ramifications, “I will lay down my life for the sheep.”  His call also extends beyond the confines of his faithful flock “ I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” 

Because Jesus entered into his call becoming the good shepherd and laying down his life, His Father raised him up in glory.   We each have a vocation to be good shepherds.  We are to be leaders in our churches, in our congregations, in our families, at the work place, in our parishes, in our communities—leading in the same way that Jesus did: with accountability for those entrusted to our care; with compassion for those in danger; with respect for each person; giving excellent leadership by serving those in our sphere of influence according to each one’s needs.

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we are all invited to reflect on our own shepherding.  Perhaps we are doing just fine.  Perhaps there is a call we feel inside us to step outside of the flock we were born into and take leadership in another way.  If we have ever thought about a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, perhaps today is the time to acknowledge that and step out as the good shepherd of our time and place.

Prayer of Pope Francis for the 2016 World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Father of mercy, who gave your Son for our salvation and who strengthens us always with the gifts of your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to you and to the work of evangelization. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one’s particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so that in all things the greatness of your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for the service of the holy People of God.

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