Sunday, May 12, 2019

Good Shepherd Sunday

Here is the text of the reflection I shared this weekend.  Since the students in our French communities were celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation, and since the Bishop of the Diocese was here to preside at those liturgies, the text of my reflection is only published in English this week.

Back to basics

This weekend, children at Ste-Famille in Blind River and at Ste-Marie here in Elliot Lake are celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation.  In God’s eternal plan, the fact that this significant moment in their lives of faith is taking place on the Fourth Sunday of Easter – which is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations – provides all of us with an opportunity to remember and to celebrate our faith.

In the gospel passage that we have heard today, Jesus uses the image of a sheep.  He says: My sheep listen to my voice.  I know them and they follow me (Jn 10:27).  Anyone who has spent time with animals knows that most of them will get to know the voice of at least one human being.  If human beings spend enough time with them, most animals will get to know us and we will get to know them.  This is God’s desire for us: that we should spend enough time with him.  He already knows us but he wants us to get to know him.  As we do, we will find that he loves us and wants only good things for us ... and when someone wants only good things for us, we want to spend more time with them.

Today, we pray for vocations.  The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, which means to call.  Every one of us has a vocation in life because all of us have been called by God to live as his disciples.  When we discover our vocation, we are compelled to live it out.  In the first reading for today’s Mass, we heard some of the details about the vocation that was revealed to Paul and to Barnabas.  They had heard the Lord calling to them, and they responded by travelling to many places, telling others this good news that they had heard (cf Acts 13:14). You might say that they were among the very first missionaries.

When we learn to listen to the voice of the shepherd, his words will always compel us to go out to others and to share the joy that we have come to know: the joy that we have discovered as we have come close to Jesus and spent time in his presence.  People will not always welcome what we have to say.  They may very well question us, challenge us and they may even refuse to listen to us, but that didn’t stop Paul and Barnabas, and it should not stop us either.

Listening for the shepherd’s voice is important, but there are some of us who are visual learners.  Perhaps the Book of Revelation can help us to grow in our understanding that Jesus is preparing each one of us for something wonderful.  The vision described by John is a celebration, a wonderful party.  In his vision, he saw a great multitude of people that no one could count, people from every nation, tribe and language (Rev 7:9).

Earlier this year, Endgame, the latest episode in the Marvel Avengers movie series was released.  It made more money in its first weekend than any other movie in the Avengers series had ever made.  These productions might create a lot of hype but in a relatively short time, their attraction will certainly fade.  Thousands of years after Jesus died and rose again, people are still seeking adventures.  People still need to hear the good news: Jesus, the good shepherd, is still inviting us to embark on the adventure of knowing him, and of knowing the joy of being known and loved by him.

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