FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B
25th April 2021
Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18.
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter the church prays for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. It is also called the Good Shepherd Sunday because the gospel is about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. The gospel passage presents us with three qualities of the Good Shepherd. The first is that the Good Shepherd is different from the hired man. The shepherd is the owner of the flock as such will lay down his life when faced with danger in order to protect what belongs to him. The hired man will run to safety because he is not the owner of the flock.
The second quality is that the shepherd knows the sheep by name. He calls them, they hear his voice and follow him. There is a bonding between the sheep and the sphered likened to that between the Father and the Son. The bonding makes way for unity between the flock and the shepherd such that there is one flock and one shepherd.
Finally, the love of God enables the shepherd to voluntarily lay down his life for his flock. The love of God is enabling and motivational towards servant leadership. The shepherd is inspired to replicate the love of God in service to the wellbeing and safety of the flock to the extent of laying down his life for them.
The religious and the priestly vocation is founded on the principles of the Good Shepherd thus mentioned. Vocation is derived from the love of God burning in our hearts. The vocation to the priesthood and the religious life is a response to this love of God. It is a voluntary response to give one’s life to the service of others. It is a reflection of a knowledge of God through friendship with him. The priest and the religious are above all friends of God. They are formed not trained! They are formed to understand human nature and to see humanity from the Divine Mercy of God.
The greatest challenge to priestly and religious vocation is the hostility of a world that has relegated God to the private life. So let us pray for more young men and women to respond to the ever faithful love of God that is constantly burning in our hearts.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.