This Sunday is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It is a day that is set aside by the Church to encourage people to reflect and discern God’s call to them.

In 2013 the Pope said that “becoming a priest, Deacon or a man or woman religious is not primarily our own decision … rather it is the response to a call and to a call of love.”

Pope Francis wrote, “The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom; it is not a ‘cage’ or a burden to be borne.  On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking.”

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore in Ireland, says it takes courage to follow God’s call. “It does take a lot of courage to say ‘yes’ to a vocation especially in today’s culture. But by the same token people are looking for happiness. And where do they go and seek it? That’s the question, and Jesus is saying to us, ‘come to me’”.

The people who truly inspire us in this life, notes the Bishop, are not the people who have taken the easy way out: “They are the people who continue to love in spite of everything”.

Offering advice for men and women considering a vocation, Bishop Cullinan invites people to “pray and trust; don’t be afraid. We are all unworthy; there is nobody who is worthy of priesthood except Jesus Himself.”

Story: A shepherd was looking after his sheep one day on the side of a deserted road, when suddenly a brand-new Porsche screeches to a halt.

The driver, a man dressed in an Armani suit, gets out and asks the shepherd:

“If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?”

The shepherd looks at the young man, and then looks at the large flock of grazing sheep and replies: “Okay.”

The young man parks the car, connects his laptop to his mobile, enters a NASA Webster, scans the ground using his GPS He turns to the shepherd and says, “You have exactly 1,586 sheep here.” Rather surprised the shepherd replies, “That’s correct, you can have your sheep.”

The young man takes an animal and puts it in the back of his Porsche. Just as the man is about to drive off, the shepherd asks him: “If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?” The young man answers, “Yes, why not?”

The shepherd says, “You are an IT consultant.”  “How did you know?” asks the young man.

“Very simple,” answers the shepherd. “Firstly, you came here without being called.

Secondly, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew, and thirdly, you don’t understand anything about my business.

Now please can I have my dog back?”

A good shepherd has three outstanding characteristics:

  1. He has love and compassion.
  2. He knows each of his sheep by name.
  3. He places his body between sheep and vicious animals. He will die protecting the sheep.

Jesus has all three of these characteristics in abundance. His love and compassion are outstanding. He knows all of his people by name. He knows the weak and the strong, the stubborn and the submissive, the hurts and needs of every sheep. He sacrificed himself on the cross so that we could have eternal life.

Every day Jesus surrounds us with opportunities, challenges, difficulties, and decisions…and his grace. Even more, he wants us to live life to the fullest. We are not perfect people, but we can still have that abundant life. Because He gave up his life for us on the cross like a good shepherd, we can have that abundant life. We have forgiveness and eternity. We are not alone, because he is with us, and he will be with us for all eternity.

Remember your mother saying to you something like, “Well, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too? Actually, your mother’s saying is based on the book of Exodus, Chapter 22, where it says, “You shall not allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong.

Hearing the voice of the Shepherd is what protects us from dangers to our salvation; from going astray. The best parents are “good shepherds.” They love all their children equally, and they really mean it when they say, “You are all my ‘favorites’!”

Jesus said: You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. The sheep did not line up a bunch of shepherds and then pick one. It was the other way around. We are not here by luck or fate or chance. We are here according to the good pleasure of His will.

And he knows your name. It’s never ‘hey you’. He knows all about you. Your down-sitting and your uprising. Your thoughts far off. Your strengths, your weakness, your sins. And still he calls.

And the sheep, his sheep, listen to his voice. Out of a thousand beckoning voices in our world, the sheep know their Master’s voice.

Loving and Generous God, it is You who call us by name and ask us to follow You. Help us to grow in the Love and Service of our Church. Give us the energy and courage of Your Spirit to shape its future. Inspire us to know You better and open our hearts to hear Your call. We ask this through our Lord. Amen.

–Dcn. Terry Murphy

Category Homilies