My dear friends,
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is always Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As Catholics, we should feel moved to pray for vocations every single day to the priesthood and the religious life. Today we pay particular attention to vocations to the priesthood because of the nature of the gospel. “I am the good shepherd,” Christ tells us, and we pray that he calls good shepherds to look after his sheep.
Why does Christ compare us to sheep and more importantly, why do sheep need so much care? Last week I came across a video that perfectly captures the behavior of sheep. The video is of a young boy trying to help a sheep that has fallen into a ditch on the side of the road. The boy can only rescue it by pulling on one of its hind legs very forcefully. The sheep is finally freed and immediately hops away with great speed…only to fall into the same ditch again just 10 yards down the road. As followers of Jesus, we constantly fall, and thankfully we have a God who is constantly rescuing us even if we fall mere moments after he rescues us. That’s the beauty of the mercy of our Lord. That’s the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation where through the ministry of a priest, the Lord not only rescues us from our sinful ditch but also cleanses our hearts from all sin.
This is why we must fervently pray for vocations at all times not just on this Sunday. We need the Lord to send good shepherds to rescue us, feed us, absolve us, anoint us. There is no Eucharist without the priest. The ministry of the priest is needed by all of us including your pastor who also seeks a priest out when he needs his monthly confession. I mentioned this during my Holy Thursday homily, but we all recall the priests who made a different in our spiritual lives along our journey of faith. We need to pray for the young men who are discerning a vocation or are in seminary who will one day bring Christ to us in the Eucharist and will make a difference in our lives down the road. Who knows? The priest who will anoint me on my death bed, hear my last confession and give me Viaticum may be a boy in our school or Religious Education program or a boy we have recently baptized. That is the mystery of God’s call. I always say that all of you were hard at work praying for Father Omar and I long before we joined the seminary here in Miami so that God would move our hearts to say “yes” to the priesthood. Pray that young men from Little Flower may follow in our footsteps and lay down their lives for Holy Mother Church.
And finally, pray for your parish priests. Pray that we may be holy as Christ our Good Shepherd and our High Priest. We rely on your prayers and feel your prayers every day. Never cease to pray for us and for more vocations to the priesthood.