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05/07/17 Fourth Sunday of Easter - Fr. Damian

Traditionally, this fourth Sunday of Easter is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,”

because each year the Church presents us with our Lord’s beautiful description of

himself as a shepherd who has tender, merciful love for his sheep.


For many years now, the Church has also designated this Sunday as World Day of

Prayer for Vocations. So we pray today in a special way in this Holy Mass that God will call many more men to the great adventure of being shepherds for his flock.


Picture it: an idyllic pasture with lush grass, a large flock of sheep gently grazing, and a shepherd looking over them. The sheep are trained to be attentive to the one who enters through the gate, not over the fence, to hear only their master's voice, and to follow wherever he leads. It's easy to imagine Jesus in the role of the Good Shepherd, to picture him lovingly protecting his flock, and to realize, too, that he is the only gate through which the sheep can pass safely.


But what about those sheep? How attentive are they, really? They fall prey to wolves, they scatter at strange sounds, and they will be tricked by thieves and robbers. They concentrate on eating, mating, and where their next pasture will be. Young ones will stay by their mothers, older ones will spar with one another, and each day's docile existence is interrupted only when the herd starts to move.

Are we those sheep? We spend our days in pursuit of things that will not last. We focus on our next meal, the weather, and other people. We worry about our place in the pasture and competition with others. We listen to countless voices telling us to buy this, to own that, and to believe anything. We go through gates where we should not venture, we listen to messages that are found in the slickest commercial or the latest political speech and we follow people who do not have our best interests at heart.

How can we be so easily led astray? How can we be more focused? How can we return to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls? How can we listen to Christ's voice and not the cacophony of political analysts, Hollywood hype, and the latest commercial? And how can we realize, in our broken and confused lives, that it is only Jesus who has healed our wounds and bought us salvation?


In this Easter season, let us resolve to focus, along with our neophytes, on the sacraments of initiation. Let us appreciate, anew, the call of Christ at our Baptism and continue to answer his call. Let us remember the grace of Confirmation and the Holy Spirit's promise to build us up. Let us resolve to more regularly and reverently receive the Eucharist that sustains and unites us. And let us do all of this in the midst, of a community of believers who, like lambs, are also listening for Christ's voice.


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