A couple things come together this weekend. This is Good Shepherd Sunday: the readings of the 4th Sunday of Easter always treat of the Good Shepherd. It happens to be Mother’s Day this year and a good mother is always a good shepherd. It is also the day we are asked to pray for vocations to religious life and the priesthood: religious leaders have to pattern themselves after the Good Shepherd, always being of service. As Pope Francis has said, leaders need to smell like the sheep.
Sheep were very valuable at the time the scriptures were written. They provided wool for clothing to keep the people warm (there were not many other alternatives back then). They provided milk and cheese and, ultimately, meat. They were necessary for ritual sacrifices.
Our readings are telling us that each and every person is valuable to God, as were the sheep to the people in biblical times. In our first reading, Paul quotes the words Simeon spoke to Mary in the temple, saying that Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles and bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Our reading from Revelations reinforces this by presenting the redeemed from “every nation, race, people, and tongue.” Jesus says in the Gospel that no one can take His sheep away from Him.
What we celebrate today is that we are all saved by the blood of the Lamb, each and every person. We just need to listen to His voice and follow Him. We also need to do our best to help others hear His voice and follow Him, so that they, too, can receive their share of His
redemption. This is what our faith is all about.
Let us be thankful today for those who have been Good Shepherds to us, especially mothers, fathers, teachers, and religious leaders. Let us be thankful that we have been called to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him, while asking God to help us be better shepherds by being a conduit of His voice for others, especially by the example of our lives. We also pray that those whom God is calling to religious life and/or priesthood may hear His voice and follow Him. May the Good Shepherd bless us today and always.
Church sign of the week: May God be answering someone else’s prayer through you.