Today’s Mary Mail is by Fr. Anthony Yanamala.
Fr. Anthony is the priest for Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spearman and Cristo Redentor in Gruver. Fr. Anthony is from India. He is a blessing to me and our parish.
Jesus is the gate for the sheep. Jesus is the way to eternal life, and way to the Father.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Church reminds us of our call to become good shepherds of God’s flock and good and invites us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life.
The first reading is taken from St. Peter’s first sermon, given on the day of Pentecost. He reminds his Jewish listeners that they have crucified their true Shepherd. Hence, they need to receive forgiveness for their sins by getting baptized in the name of Jesus.
The image of sheep dominates the readings today. The psalmist addresses Yahweh as his Shepherd. Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd; nothing shall I want.” “He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand” (Ps.95:7). Ezekiel foretells what the Messiah will do as Good Shepherd. “I myself will tend My sheep …I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34: 15-16). God is the ultimate Shepherd of His people, providing guidance, sustenance and protection (Psalm 23), and He intends their Kings and other leaders to be their shepherds as well. In the Gospel of John (chapter 10), Jesus declared that He is the Good Shepherd who not only loves and cares every time, even in difficulties, sickness especially who suffer with fear of COVID 19, and also Jesus lays down His life for us. We are the Sheep of Christ; and we belong to Him at all times.
The Sheep know their shepherd: Christ knows his people, and God’s people know their Christ. The Shepherd knows his sheep intimately even by its name “I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands (Is 49:16). Jesus has intimate knowledge about each of us. One of the important ways to learn about Christ is to read the Word of God. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is the ignorance of Christ”.
The sheep know His voice: we are being the sheep of Christ’s flock, must be familiar with His voice. These days there are many who claim to echo the voice of God, but in reality, they are thieves. Christ is one and His way is one; if the way does not lead to Christ, it leads away from Him. We need to be cautious to identify the voice of Christ.
The Sheep love and trust Him: God’s priority is the sheep and their wellbeing. In the book of prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “I love you with an everlasting love.” We only reciprocate God’s love. “Like a shepherd, He feeds His flock; in His arms He gathers the lambs, carrying them in His bosom, and leading the ewes with care” (Isaiah 40:11). Because He loves and cares for us. The sheep follow Him: in the presence of Jesus we are safe; under the leadership of Jesus, we will never miss the way; for He alone knows the way to the heavenly Father.
We need to become good shepherds and good leaders. Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence, pastors, Deacons, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, and caregivers in this time of Pandemic, and among others, are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties toward their children, giving them good example and instruction and training them in Christian principles. Jesus is the High Priest, the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, the pastors are their helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. Let us pray for the vocations. Today, let us also pray for the protection from Covid 19 of our Parish family in Spearman and Gruver, and all the people around the World. Let us always remember that Jesus, The Good Shepherd is with us, and loves us with unending love. Amen.