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Called to love and to follow the Good Shepherd

May 11, 2022

By Sister Mary Eamon Lyng, SSJ
Vocation Coordinator

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. – John 10:27-30).

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, there are some “active verbs” that Jesus puts out there for all of us to ponder: “hear,” “know,” “follow,” “give.” These “active” verbs used by the Good Shepherd are the voice of Jesus calling each of us to live our vocation to its fullness with His grace and love. These verbs are the stages of growth in the call to continue the work of Jesus’ mission in the Church as a husband and wife, priest or brother, deacon, consecrated religious or single. It is a call to encounter more deeply a loving relationship of the Good Shepherd and to follow Him.

The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to listen more attentively to the call to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), consecrated life in all its forms (male and female religious life, societies of apostolic life, consecrated virginity), secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life. The Church is attentive to the Good Shepherd’s instructions to “pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2).

To “hear” the voice of the Shepherd is to be attentive to the tenor and sound of His call. The Good Shepherd knows each one of us by name. Just as the Father knows the Son, the Son knows the Father. So, too, for one who “knows” the Shepherd’s voice already has an intimate relationship with the Shepherd through deep listening in the quiet and solitude of one’s heart in prayer.

This mutual knowing is the communion of life between Jesus and the person who is discerning the call for a deeper love and service to Him. The Shepherd keeps prodding until there is a response to “follow” Him more closely for the sake of the whole flock of sheep. We are ready to leave everything behind and to follow Jesus.
Once there is the “Yes” to follow the Shepherd, it does not mean this is a “once and for all” response. It is a daily response of a loving relationship through “thick and thin” of daily living of the “ups and downs” of good times and not so good times. There is always the daily grace that strengthens us on the journey. The Shepherd does not lose sight of us but walks beside us so that we do not stray from the flock. We can trust the Shepherd not to lead us astray.

The Good Shepherd feeds us with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, food for the journey, and refreshes us with the life-giving waters of His grace.

As the Shepherd laid down His life for us, which was the will of His Father and Jesus’ loving response to the Father, so too, the Shepherd walks with us.

His Shepherd-task of guiding, caring for, and uniting His sheep continues in our daily living. The Good Shepherd keeps calling His sheep to serve and to lay down their lives for Him.

More than ever, the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. For those discerning the next step, will you answer the call? Will not the Good Shepherd see to it that His flock will not perish at the end of life but will be given the promise of eternal life?

“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb….For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:14b-17).
What are some of the times that you have heard the Shepherd’s voice? What distractions make it difficult to listen? Do you believe Jesus may be calling you to be a priest, a deacon, a consecrated religious, a consecrated virgin?

We are abundantly blessed with the leadership of the shepherd of our diocese, Bishop Terry R. LaValley, and the priests who serve and minister to the people of the North Country.

We have also been blessed with religious congregations serving in the diocese as teachers, catechists, parish coordinators, hospital ministers and, above all, in lives and ministries of prayer.

These women and men continue to serve in the pastoral needs of the people of God. They bring to God’s people His power of love, sense of mission and commission to an unknown future that may lead to an encounter with other seekers of God’s presence that will transform lives.

Jesus’ invitation, “Come, follow Me,” is ever the gift and the mystery of vocation.

The Good Shepherd is calling again, “Be with me, now and forever.”

Pope Francis urges the Church “to continue to promote vocations, to touch the hearts of the faithful, and to enable each of them to discover with gratitude God’s call in their lives and to find courage to say “yes” to God.”
Let us respond with joy, “Yes, Lord, I give you my heart.”

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