4th Sunday of Easter year A, 03/05/2020.

Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, also called the Vocations Sunday, we want to start by reminding ourselves the Vocation of Mary to bring forth the Redeemer, whom we celebrate his resurrection in Eastertide after laying down his life for us. Just as we feel obliged to thank and appreciate the health care providers at this time of the Covid19 pandemic, throughout this Month of May, we shall give our love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary for being the first caregiver from our sinful state.  On the other hand, the Psalmist with the familiar psalm 22 in the Hebrew bible or 23 in the Greek bible, demonstrates the hope and trust that we are all seeking at this challenging time of our lives. The Psalmist expresses his faith as imagination, while in the first reading Peter invites the crowd to have faith in Christ.

            Wait a minute! Faith as imagination and invitation? We shape our actions, responses, and initiatives, in accordance with what we see to be going on around us. Our center of value and power is shaped by the images we form from what is going on in our world. To illustrate this point, a story goes that, two youthful men were searching their vocation, and one said, “If I become a priest, I will vest elegantly and with the sense of royalty” while the other said, “I desire holiness and that is what a priest is called for, so when I become one, I want to be holy.” Another young lad heard them debate on their reasons to follow Christ as priests and said, “You both of you are wrong, don’t you see how the expensive cars they drive, and the fancy houses they live in? That’s why I want to become one of them.”

            While their imagination of the priesthood vocation is centered on the image, that they form from what they see around them, they can also help us to ask ourselves these questions:

Do we find God in every state of life? What image influences how we think of our leaders? From Jesus’ lens, is their image correct? In the Anthropology of Poetry collection, is The Scholar gypsy poem by Mathew Arnold who paints the scholar in Pastoral Mode, instancing a Shepherd, and he writes:

“Go for they call you, shepherd, from the hill;

Go, shepherd, and untie the wattled cotes!

No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,

…. Come, shepherd, and begin the quest!”

Our quest as shepherds is to untie the wattled cotes, not leave the flock unfed, and always begin the quest for service. The Psalmist’s image is that of hope and trust in God who gives repose. To Jesus in today’s familiar Gospel, the image is that of the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Furthermore, Jesus goes on to link another image of a gatekeeper with a shepherd. These two images are central and compelling in whatever vocation we live; whether married or single, consecrated men and women, banker, politician, volunteer, and every capacity to serve others. What’s more? By this image of a Good Shepherd, and its connection with gatekeeping, Jesus invites us to think of religion not as a political, economic or ethical system, but as an ongoing relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and his followers. And as Peter encourages us in the second reading, we also have a vocation to encourage others to follow Christ’s example and put their trust in God, mainly, at this time of the pandemic, floods, mudslides and landslides, staggering economies and domestic violence.

On this week consider responding to the way Jesus is calling you to be, and pray for others also to hear his invitation.

Joy and peace.

Fr Lawrence