My Dear Friends,
“…the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3)
When I was a kid, every day after school we would play football in the street in front of my house not too far from our church. Imagine that! We would actually go outside to play instead of numbing our brains to television and video games. We would play from when we arrived from school until sunset or at least until we heard a voice calling us home for dinner. It was the unmistakable voice of our mother who would call us, and yes there were times where we would ignore it so we could get in a couple of more plays, but we would always obey lest we hear the booming voice that would come after hers if we didn’t listen: the voice of our father.
We all have been listening to our mother’s voice since we were in the womb, and we have a special connection with that voice. It is a voice that sooths, brings comfort, corrects, but that also shows love. It is a voice that Jesus heard too when he was a child as he heard the voice of our Blessed Mother teaching him how to pray and how to recognize the voice of God and to do his will. Mary knew all too well what it meant to do the Father’s will, so she taught her Son perfectly how to do the same.
Tomorrow, we begin the Month of Mary who teaches us how to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, and today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that his sheep recognize his voice and follow him. The question for us is: do we really? Do we know what the Shepherd’s voice sounds like? And do we follow it? Sometimes that voice calls us to do some extraordinary tasks; tasks that seem almost impossible. But if God calls us to do something that we deem impossible, isn’t he going to make sure that we succeed? What the Archangel Gabriel asked of Mary was impossible, yet he said, “nothing is impossible for God.” Perhaps Mary wasn’t quite ready to be a mother, but the Lord called, and he made her ready which is why we honor her with a special month because she listened and obeyed. Perhaps we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling us into different pastures or calling us to do something that we feel we aren’t quite ready to do or capable of doing. If it is indeed God who is calling us, he will make us ready and capable to do whatever it is he is calling us to do. All we have to do is trust in his will for us, for as the psalm says: “he guides me in right paths.” And like a mother’s voice, his voice will always bring us great comfort and lead us to a place of joy and peace.
This Fourth Sunday of Easter is not only Good Shepherd Sunday, but it is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As I mentioned during my Holy Thursday homily, we must rededicate ourselves to prayers for vocations. I invite you to sign up to take the Vocations Chalice home by contacting Father Andrew. And as we begin the month of Mary, let us implore our Blessed Mother to move the hearts of young men and women to follow her Son and dedicate their lives to the work of his Church. We begin these prayers tomorrow night, Monday, May 1st, as we gather for our biannual Outdoor Rosary on the rectory lawn at 7:30pm. I look forward to seeing you there to offer the rosary for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.