4th Sunday of Easter

John 10:27-30

Good ShepperdFor visitors to the Holy Land, one of the most memorable sights is that of the Shepherds leading their flocks of sheep – so different to what we do in our own country! Shepherds in Israel have a unique relationship with their sheep and lambs. It is also intriguing to note that shepherds there have individual calls or whistles to communicate with their own flocks.

Several different flocks may shelter overnight at the same place. In the morning the shepherd makes his particular call and immediately his flock will follow him out –‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me’.

On this, ‘Vocations Sunday’, we might ask ourselves what call do I hear and how do I respond? In order to take our part in the Kingdom of God we must listen for the call, the call of the Lord who claims us as His own flock. Very often our understanding of ‘vocation’ is calling to the Religious Life or to the Priesthood. It is not so limited!

Could God call me to some role in His Kingdom from my busy, humble or worldly way of life?

Out of a situation of some despair and of unlikely parenthood God called Abraham, who considered himself to be too old, to be the father of a multitude of nations.
The prophet Jeremiah protested that he was too young. Even Mary considered that she might not be called to more than her choice to be a virgin.

Jeremiah was assured by God; ‘I will put my words in your mouth’ and Mary was told ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you’. God uses various ways to reveal His particular calling to us. Sometimes it may be parents or family that are used by God. John the Baptist’s parents first heard his calling and passed it on to him; ‘you, little child, you shall a prophet of God the Most High. You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare His ways before him’. Saint Joseph’s call came to him in a dream. And Peter, having denied the Lord three times, was called out of his sinfulness to express his love for the Lord three times before being commissioned to ‘feed my sheep’.

Today we are invited to listen for the call of our Good Shepherd. We train our ears by being open to the sounds in our lives and our eyes to the signs around us. God does prompt us if we take time and space to notice His presence.

Our Prayer and Profession on this day could be;

‘You Lord are my Shepherd, I need no more.
You, Lord lead me in the right paths and where you lead me is to green pastures and still waters. Even when I am in despair and fearful and doubtful, you are with me to comfort and protect me. Let me be aware that my cup is overflowing. As I follow you, I know that goodness and mercy will fill my life and that you will lead me to your eternal home where I can live for ever and ever. (Cf Psalm 23)