Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. Our Lord described Himself as the good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep. For the early followers of Christ this was their favorite image as catacomb paintings show. Each of us is the sheep, wounded and lost, but picked up and carried on the shoulders of the Lord. The tender mercy that comes from the Good Shepherd extends not only to our waywardness but also He gives us the sustenance we need to journey through life, most especially in the Holy Eucharist. Though I rarely go on Facebook, and only to view our streaming of Masses, I frequently see the posting “no priests no Eucharist” How true it is! As we contemplate Jesus as the Good Shepherd we remember what He said,” …the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the Master to send out laborers for his harvest” (Lk 10:2).
Today is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations especially to the Priesthood. Our Lord wants above all to continue through His priests His saving presence and blessed assurance that He has not abandoned the flock. As in all things with Our Lord, He asks for our cooperation. The flock, therefore, has to ask the Master to raise up from our midst those men who will dedicate themselves to continuing the mission of Christ for the salvation of souls. Proposing, encouraging and praying for young men to be courageous in answering the Call is the duty of all faithful Catholics. Not all will respond enthusiastically but seeds will be sown and God will do the reaping as long as we cooperate.
Priests do not fall from trees, though some may think we do. Their vocations are fostered for the most part within the beauty of family life. It is there that a possible vocation germinates. Faith, mutual respect, self-sacrificing service to each member are the necessary attributes for a vocation to priesthood to take root. A father teaches a son how to be a man in a world that has become so terribly confused and mixed-up. A mother demonstrates how to be caring and tender and how very grateful we are to our mother’s as we especially honor them on this day.
Pope St Pius the X (1835-1914) recalls the importance of his mother in his vocation. He was a very humble man who had a saintly mother, Margarita Sanson. Because they were so poor, she worked as a washer woman and a school janitor to earn enough money so her son could go to seminary. When he was installed as Pope, his mother was present, and as was the custom, she kissed his large papal ring. She then presents her tiny hand with her wedding ring and said, “Now you kiss my ring–for without it, you never would have received yours!”
Thank you mothers, a blessed day to all!