April 17th Fourth Sunday of Easter C

Introduction
“I am the Good Shepherd”. This Good Shepherd and vocation Sunday God tells us of a need for good shepherds today, priests, lay people and religious to carry on Christ’s saving work. Lets pray for them and confess where we fail to nourish vocations..

Homily
While in the Holy land I’d see shepherds chatting on the hills, their sheep mixed together. They’ll never sort out that lot, I’d say. But each shepherd would call, and each lot of sheep would disentangle themselves and trot after their master. Christian life is like that. God calls and we follow to greener pastures.
In following Christ in the church our main call is to be holy. But each of us also has a general vocation. For most its marriage and great grace is needed for a life of love, faithfulness and family care. Some are called to active Christian single life and this is also valuable. Then again we all have special vocational tasks in life; nurses, teachers, shopkeepers etc. Each of us has a special role in God’s plan for a balanced world and society. For most Christian witness is shown in family and worldly work. Christ spent 30 of his 33 years in the family carpentry business.
Ordinary Christian family and business witness is as important as consecrated religious life. What keeps the world from chaos is loving Christian homes. Celibacy in religious and priestly life, though vital to the church’s holiness, is no less demanding an ideal than marriage faithfulness.
That said, on this Good Shepherd and vocation Sunday we’re asked to pray especially for priestly and religious vocations. For an increasing scarcity there is worrying. The laity’s new prominence in the church is a must, but priests are still needed to preside over the Eucharist and shepherd the flock. Similarly monks, sisters and brothers provide such service and prayer the church would be immensely impoverished without them.
“A crisis in ministry”, a media headline said recently, “Only 10 sisters joined up this year”. No wonder the church calls for prayer and eucharistic adoration for vocations. It lists practical steps the faithful can take: suggesting a priestly or religious vocation to children; sharing our vocation story; serving in parish ministry and encouraging them to do so; supporting those interesting in priestly or religious life; and above all nourishing existing vocations.
The reason for the vocation fall seems to be mainly affluence. Vocations are growing everywhere except in the affluent countries of the west where secular, immoral and irreligious thinking is also a major influence. This and scandals in the church, have left many priests and religious demoralized; in the last few years four young priests left in our diocese. Sure, some priests disgraced the cloth, and in the past so did some religious. But to tar all consecrated people with the same brush is like saying we should ignore Christ because Judas was bad.
No! We must affirm good clerics and religious anew lest we end up with none. Maybe its God’s will that we’ve fewer priests and religious so that the laity can be more prominent. Maybe this crisis is providential, bringing down harsh hierarchical church structures. But even in this scenario we must support vocational events and pray constantly for new vocations, as well as a new more open and humane church to fit the times. Good shepherds are more needed in a new evolving church where priests and bishops return to the gospel role of love and humble service; where the church’s message of eternal life comes to the fore. So lets support and pray for good consecrated priests and religious to lead a new flowering of the church. So today too Christ can lead the world from darkness into God’s light. For this world’s values fade to dust and ashes at last, but Christ is lord of goodness, happiness, truth and salvation for now and ever and ever, amen…
As God’s own, living our vocations in Christian love and by prayer and practical means aiding as best we can a new flowering of consecrated and priestly life, lets profess our faith..

Prayers of the Faithful
As God’s people living our vocations in love, lets pray that all will work for a new promotion of priestly and religious life…

Prayers of the faithful.
For our Holy Father and all church leaders, that they may promote good vocations for a fruitful new apostolate to our age…

For ourselves that we may be active in promoting, supporting and encouraging vocations to the priestly and religious life so that our church may grow and thrive to redeem the times…

For young people, that they may find in Christ and in priestly and religious service of God’s people, rich fulfillment and never turn away when the Lord calls them to such devoted service…

For the sick that through medical and other caring vocational people they may experience the healing hand of God…

For the dead who have fulfilled their work in this world that they may reap the rewards of their endeavors in the life to come…

And we ask all these prayers through Christ, the Good Shepherd, who never neglects the flock in their need, amen.

Reflection:
The story of Sr. Briege, the miracle nun, is inspiring. When young she suffered from arthritis. One day while at prayer she heard God’s voice saying, Briege you are healed, go and heal others. She stood up perfectly well to go on an apostolate of healing all over the world. Many spiritual and physical miracles are told in her book “Miracles Do Happen”. They occur mainly during blessing with the Monstrance. We pray that we may answer God’s call as generously and reap as much fruits.. Hail Mary

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