Fourth week of Easter 2019
Good Shepherd Sunday
Jesus said “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. They will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.” John 10:27-30
This week at Mass, we will hear and read these comforting words from Jesus in St John’s Gospel. On Sunday, it is Vocations Sunday or Good Shepherd Sunday. We remember that Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd, the One who laid down His life for the sheep, which is each one of us!
During the Easter Season, we continue to rejoice that Jesus is the One who died for us, was raised to life again on the third day and who now lives forever. This gives us hope in our troubled world and is what Christians all around the world remember and celebrate with joy and happiness on Easter Sunday. We are His people, the sheep of His flock. Just as a shepherd tenderly carries, guides and feeds the flock, so our loving and gentle Lord also does that with us. He leads us beside and to the still waters –which is His Holy Spirit. He leads us to green pastures – rest with Him as He takes care of our daily needs – needs for our bodies and our souls. He restores us and keeps us safe. No one can come and snatch us away from Jesus if we belong to Him. He holds us safely within His protective arms of love. We belong to Him through our Baptism and we stay close to Him and strong through the Sacraments. These are particularly the Holy Eucharist of His Holy Body and Blood in Communion, and through the gift of His forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. These two wonderful life changing and healing Sacraments are those that Jesus won for us when He died for us upon the Cross and rose again in victory.
This week we are also reminded to remember all those who are training to become priests in our seminary colleges or at St Mary’s College, Oscott in north Birmingham, Valladolid in Spain and the Venerable English College (VEC) in Rome. We have 11 young men who are currently studying for the Sacred Priesthood as part of the Archdiocese of Birmingham in these locations. Let us during this joyful Season of Eastertide pray for more vocations to the sacred Priesthood the Religious Life. May we also pray more deeply for our Priests who care for us as Shepherds tending the flock. This week, may we make an effort to pray for all our Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and also for our Holy Father, Pope Francis. All the unique people that make up the main leaders of the Church began their religious life as a Priest. At heart, mission and vocation they still are and will continue to be a Priest even though they are higher up in the Church. We can also pray for our Priests who serve us in our Parishes day by day. They too need our prayers for the life of a Priest can sometimes be a lonely and difficult one as he follows in the way of Christ, taking up the Cross and living like His Lord, Jesus, Himself the Great High Priest and the Saviour of all.
O Jesus, our great High Priest,
Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father [N].
Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.
In his loneliness, comfort him in his sorrows, strengthen him in his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.
O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much.
Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.
Prayer taken from Catholic Online for Vocations.