April 25, 2021 – Fourth Sunday of Easter; Good Shepherd Sunday
+ Manny Cabajar, C.Ss.R., D.D.
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/Bible/readings/042521.cfm)
What is the value of the priesthood in our life? St. John Vianney says, “Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth…The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven…He is the steward of the Lord…Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest and they will end up worshiping the beasts there.” Pope Benedict XVI adds that without priestly ministry “there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church.”
Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We are blest and rejoice that we belong to the flock of the Good Shepherd, who continues to take care of us through the human shepherds He chooses – the bishops and priests. Through their ministry we are ensured access to the means of our salvation. God may not call us to their kind of life but He invites us to promote and to pray for priestly and religious vocations. There is a decline of young people joining the priesthood or religious life. That may partly be attributed to the materialistic and egoistic culture that regards material comfort and luxury as the way to happiness. But maybe it is also because we have not prayed enough to the Lord to send more laborers to the harvest.
As we intensify our prayer for more vocations, let us also pray for good and true leadership among those responsible for tending the flock. Jesus sets himself as their model through the image of the Good Shepherd who takes care of His flock. He knows and leads His sheep to green pastures; He seeks out the lost sheep. If needed, He is ready to die for His sheep. The happy priest is one who is not interested in having or getting more, but rather in self-emptying in the service of his flock. The happy priest is one who intimately knows the Good Shepherd and shares his experience of Him with the flock under his care.
Lord of the Harvest, we pray in a special way for our priests, deacons, seminarians and religious women and men. We beseech You, O Lord, to grant them the grace of fidelity to their vocation. We also ask You to bless their families who continually show great generosity through their spiritual and material support for those who try to listen to Your call and follow You. Amen.
Brothers and sisters may you have a prayerful and restful Sunday!