This Sunday is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, because that’s the theme of the Gospel. It’s also known as Vocations Sunday… around the world many will be praying for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for leaders who are needed to do the work of spreading the Gospel.
But let’s not stop there ... we also need lay folks who are able to lead people to God. Every one of us has a calling from God. We are called to be spouses, parents, teachers, doctors, civil servants, business men and women, salespersons, truck drivers, aides in hospitals and nursing homes, and yes, even sanitation workers. All of us share that responsibility, regardless of age, social status, wealth, health, or whatever.
Otherwise, we have the experience of a pastor of a rich suburban parish, who was speaking to the kids at the grade school Mass. He told them that as the pastor he was like a shepherd and the members of his congregation were the sheep. He then put this question to them: “What does the shepherd do for the sheep?” A little fellow in the front row raised his hands and answered, “He fleeces them.”
Maybe the kid was onto something. Do we fleece those who are dependent on us by being less than our best? By not giving an honest day’s work? By taking shortcuts? By not paying attention, not listening, not seeing? By not caring what happens to those in our care? By not praying for them?
This lack of care and prayer is one of the reasons behind Jesus’ saying that he has other sheep not of his flock … sheep he has to bring safely home. And the question that I have to ask myself, as a priest, a human being, a friend, son, brother: am I helping or hindering the Lord’s work? It’s a question that any of us can ask of ourselves!
Love deeply, laugh often, pray faithfully!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.