Deacon Raymond’s Reflection

 

Forth Sunday of Easter, B- Good Shepherd Sunday

April 22, 2018           

            Jesus has risen!  His Divine Mercyforgives our doubt.  He commissions us to spread the good news to the ends of the world and be fishers of menEvangelize!   “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day–about 3,000 in all.” (Acts 2:41).  “many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4).  “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women”(Acts 5:14).   We are desperately in need of Shepherds to tend the flock!!!

            Good shepherds are hard to find.  A good shepherd has to recognize the value of the sheep.  A good shepherd has to be willing to take risks to protect the sheep.  A good shepherd has to be responsible, love and care.  Jesus cares. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”(Gospel reading John 10:14-16).    He values each of us.  He goes the extra miles to bring us back into his flock. He died for each and everyone of us.  He loves us, values us no matter how “useless” we think we are.  The Lord calls us to follow his example in caring for his people.   Each of us has a vocation to be a shepherd to others.  Jesus organized the visible church along the lines of a sheepfold.  St Peter, first shepherd of the visible church, depicts Jesus as the invisible “shepherd … of your souls” (1 Peter 2). and reminds all that Jesus suffered for us “the sheep going astray.”  We are not only fed through the visible guidance of His Church, but also through the invisible grace of Sacrament, especially “in the breaking of bread.”

            St Pope John Paul II once said : “Each person—unique and unrepeatable—is the fundamental and primary Way of the Church.”  For Pope John Paul II, there was no program to renew the Church. He believed that the “way” forward is not a method or program; it’s each human person.  This means that there is not a single human being whose life is not a doorway into the mystery of God.  Each person has a unique and unrepeatable vocation. If it is not discovered, embraced, and lived, it is lost to the world forever.  How seriously are we taking our responsibility to cultivate the personal vocations of others?   St Pope John Paul II wrote about the importance of this initiative very clearly in his first encyclical, On the Redeemer of Man:  “Every initiative serves true renewal in the Church and helps to bring the authentic light that is Christ insofar as the initiative is based on adequate awareness of the individual Christian’s vocation and of responsibility for this singular, unique and unrepeatable grace.”

             Being the way of the Church, we have to continue the mission of the Good Shepherd.  We have to care for others.  We can’t close our eyes to someone who needs help.  We have to empower them to stand on their own two feet. No matter what their situation, no matter what hard words or feelings may have been expressed, we can never cut them off from our care.  This particularly applies to the members of our family.  It is so sad to hear about people who exclude members of their family from their love.  Each member has a right to dignity.  He or she needs us to care about them and for them.  They need a good shepherd.

            God formed us into his children.  Now we must bring the love of our Father to all, just as Jesus did.  We have to care.  Then we can be good shepherds.   The Lord often asks us to “pray to the Master of the harvest to send workers into his harvest.”  The VG of Hong Kong just welcomed 7 men of different ages into the Permanent Diaconate formation program preparing them and their wives to support the harvesting last Sunday, the day after the apostles selected 7 men to help them care for the widows and the hungry (Acts 6:1-7, reading April 14).   Bishop Paul of our Diocese also wrote recently to tell us that God has been responding to our prayers for vocations in our diocese too.  We have eight young men studying for the priesthood in the Diocese and we are also awaiting the foundation of a monastic community of contemplative sisters, the Poor Clares.  He said, “For this we are very grateful to both our Lord and to you parishioners for your faithful prayers.  As bishop, I am very grateful for your contributions financially for the education and care of our seminarians … the average cost per seminarian annually at the seminary is $33,000.00.”    So, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, let’s continue to pray for vocation, ours and others and respond to Bishop Paul’s pledge for financial support.

        “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go, Lord, if you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.  I will hold your people in my heart.”  (Hymn  Here I am Lord. Lyrics)