Good Shepherd Sunday: Vocation Sunday
Take a moment to read the Gospel (Jn. 10:1-10) for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, which God’s Family the Church celebrates as Good Shepherd Sunday or Vocation Sunday.
Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.”
Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them. So Jesus spoke to them again:
“I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”
There are good shepherds and there are bad shepherds from what Jesus is saying: the good shepherd knows the sheep and the sheep know him. He has our true interests at heart. The other type of shepherd is disinterested at best and out to steal, take and damage at worst! It is clear whose hands we would like to be in: those of the Good Shepherd who knows what we need, wants what is best for us and will give his all so that we may live life and live it to the full.
When it comes to vocation: our calling in life; what we will be and do that will bring life to the full to us and those we share our journey with, it is somewhat the same.
There are various voices calling us to do this, be that, follow one path or another. These voices can and do influence our choices and decisions when it comes to everything from our life style, job, career, training, friendships, relationships, role in family life, place in society, the causes we fight for, the charities we support, the hobbies we pursue, places we choose to visit on holiday, use of our leisure time, how we treat other people, our attitude to matters like war, peace, homelessness, the environment, the aged, the sick and a whole host of other issues. These voices come at us from all sorts of sources: parents, family, school, college, church, Gospel, friends, the internet, songs, films, sport, magazines and all manner of messages that come our way, subtle and not-so-subtle! Rather than hearing all these competing voices clearly and one at a time, we soak them up, catch them, absorb them and are influenced by them with the rest of the crowd often without even realising or recognising how they affect us.
This Vocation/Good Shepherd Sunday may be one of those golden chances to stop, be still, take some time out, really listen, filter out some of the voices that might be nothing more than noise pollution, and tune in at the deepest level we can to some of what Jesus the Good Shepherd intends for our ears, eyes and hearts only!
Notice from your reading of the Gospel that Christ, the Good Shepherd calls us “one by one;” that is, individually, personally, tailoring his message to the unique background, story and experience of each of us. He does not want us to be lost in a crowd where any old thing will do but to be a special member of his Kingdom community where the light he has given us will shine out with and for others giving the best and fullest of life.
Then, when it comes to working out our vocation, calling, God-dream for who we will be and how we will live, our answers to the following questions might become
- a little bit clearer
- more based on deciding than on drifting
- more focused on God’s voice speaking to us personally
- less influenced by crowd voices that are impersonal.
- What are you living for?
- What would you be willing to die for?
- What are you being called to do more of?
- What do you need to do less of?
- What will you look back on and say, “That’s what God was calling me to be?”
- What will bring life to the full to the real you and the people around you?
In living the answers to these questions, maybe, just maybe we will find our true calling/vocation in life and “be sure of finding pasture”!