Sunday, 7 May 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the fourth one in the entire season of Easter, we always celebrate the one aspect of God which endears Him to us, that He is our Good Shepherd, the One Who guided the faithful people of God to Himself. Today the Scripture readings reflect precisely that fact, showing to us, how God loved the whole world and all mankind, who are His beloved ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, why then God chose to be known as a Good Shepherd? Surely He can let Himself be known as a great King, or a Teacher, or as a great Being, with titles more befitting of His stature as God. There were indeed a lot of other professions far more worthy and reputable at that time, and even as it is today, a shepherd is not a particularly well-liked or well-respected work. Yet, it is truly a noble profession in reality.

But at the time of Jesus, as well as the time of the ancestors of the people of Israel, many of the people were shepherds, as there were also many farmers and fishermen. Jesus was using parables to teach the people about the truth of God, and in the same manner therefore, just as He had used the parables of the seeds being sown in comparing the kingdom of God and explaining it to them, therefore, Jesus also compared Himself to shepherds in how He were to carry out His mission in this world.

A shepherd’s main duty is to watch over his sheep, the animal which were herded by the shepherds, as they grazed the grasslands for food. The shepherd must ensure that the sheep are protected from harm, such as wolves which would hunt sheep that are not kept in the protection of its shepherd. And sometimes, the sheep may also be separated from the flock, and becomes lost. In that case, it is the shepherd’s duty to find out where the sheep is and return it back to the flock.

But not all shepherds cared for the sheep in that expected way. Many of the shepherds were paid in order to do their job, and they only did the job as far as it benefitted them. They did not truly care for the sheep, and they would be unwilling to go the extra mile for the sake of these sheep. They would want to do only what was expected of them based on what they received.

The moment that difficulty comes upon the sheep and the flock, these people were likely to be the ones who would leave the sheep behind, caring only for their own safety and not that of the sheep. Then, how is it that the Lord is our Good Shepherd? He is the Good Shepherd precisely because He truly loves us and cares about us, as how shepherds are supposed to be. He loves us all just as much as a shepherd cares about his sheep, and even more so.

He does not abandon us or ignore us when we are in trouble. And when we are led astray, as sheep in reality had often done, He is the One Who is concerned about us, and immediately, He will go forth and find a way in order to return us to His loving embrace. It is just how much He cared for us mankind, all of His beloved ones who had become astray in this world, because we have disobeyed Him and sinned against Him.

We have become lost from the Lord, not because the Lord had cast us out from His presence, but rather because we ourselves chose to be lost and be separated from God. Had the Lord not loved us or cared for us, He would just abandon us to our fated destruction, as the punishment and consequence for sin is death, and not just death but eternal death, the damnation of our souls for eternity in hell.

That is not what the Lord intended for us, brothers and sisters in Christ. He loves each and every one of us so much, that as shepherds do, He is willing to even lay down His life for our sake. When faced with trouble, a shepherd who cares for his sheep will shelter the sheep even if he himself were to face danger by doing so. Thus in the same way, the Lord had loved us, even to the point of giving Himself for our sake, that through His suffering and death, we may be spared the fate of our destruction.

And therefore, by that great love which He had for us, He had inspired all of us to love. He has taught us real love by His own examples. That is why as Christians all of us should love each other just as He had loved us first. And He has called upon those whom He had chosen to be His servants, those who dedicated themselves completely to serve the Lord and His people, namely our priests and bishops, all those who have entered into the holy orders.

Thus, today we celebrate Vocations Sunday, a day of remembrance and prayer for all those who have received God’s call in life and chose to follow Him and dedicate themselves completely to Him. They are our shepherds, that is our priests and bishops. They are the ones who take care of us as God’s chosen shepherds, that by imitating the same examples and actions that He as our Good Shepherd had done, all of us may grow ever stronger in God’s love.

But this is certainly not an easy vocation to be done. As the Lord Himself encountered dangers, challenges, opposition and much difficulty in His mission on earth, therefore, the same thing will also happen to those shepherds He had chosen, our priests and bishops. They must persevere through those challenges, the temptations to give up their vocations and good works, and without our support, it will be difficult for them to persevere through.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore support our priests, our bishops and all those who have decided to commit themselves completely to the service of God. Let us provide them help and support in whatever way we can give, and pray for their sake, that God will protect them and grant them strength to persevere through the challenges of life.

And for those of us who have heard the Lord calling us to serve Him, let us not close our hearts and minds to Him, and let us all not ignore His call. Let us instead pray that we may discern what is the path that God had called us to walk on, and follow Him in obedience, serving Him and our fellow brethren in whatever way, be it through our daily contributions in life, and to the most noble cause of all, by dedicating our whole lives entirely to God in answering His call to the sacred priesthood, if we choose to do so.

May God bless us all, and bless our Church, all the multitudes of our priests and bishops, all those in the holy orders, who have given their all for the Lord and His people. May God be with us all, be with His Church, now and forevermore. May our Good Shepherd continue to love us and help us to walk in His path. Amen.

Sunday, 7 May 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 10 : 1-10

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out.”

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but rather they will run away from him, because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what He was saying to them.

So Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I am the Gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the Gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food. The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.”

Sunday, 7 May 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
1 Peter 2 : 20b-25

But if you endure punishment when you have done well, that is a grace before God. This is your calling : remember Christ Who suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you may follow in His way. He did no wrong and there was no deceit in His mouth. He did not return insult for insult and, when suffering, He did not curse but put Himself in the hands of God Who judges justly.

He went to the cross bearing our sins on His own Body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live an upright life. For by His wounds you have been healed. You were like stray sheep, but you have come back to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Sunday, 7 May 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 22 : 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.

He guides me through the right paths for His Name’s sake. Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are beside me : Your rod and Your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of my foes. You anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing.

Goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Sunday, 7 May 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 2 : 14a, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and, with a loud voice, addressed them, “Let Israel then know for sure that God has made Lord and Christ this Jesus Whom you crucified.” When they heard this, they were deeply troubled. And they asked Peter and the other Apostles, “What shall we do, brothers?”

Peter answered : “Each of you must repent and be baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise of God was made to you and your children, and to all those from afar whom our God may call.”

With many other words Peter gave the message and appealed to them saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who accepted his word were baptised; some three thousand persons were added to their numbers that day.

Saturday, 4 February 2017 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)
Mark 6 : 30-34

At that time, the Apostles returned and reported to Jesus all they had done and taught. Then He said to them, “Go off by yourselves to a remote place and have some rest.” For there were so many people coming and going that the Apostles had no time even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a secluded area by themselves.

But people saw them leaving and many could guess where they were going. So, from all the towns, they hurried there on foot, arriving ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began a long teaching session with them.

Friday, 3 June 2016 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 15 : 3-7

At that time, Jesus told the tax collectors and the Pharisees this parable : “Who among you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and seek the lost one till he finds it? And finding it, will he not joyfully carry it home on his shoulders?”

“Then he will call his friends and neighbours together, and say, ‘Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine decent people, who do not need to repent.”