The Fourth Sunday of Easter is always observed as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The Holy Father’s message for today can be read on the Vatican website: CLICK HERE.
This is because each year the gospel reading for today from John depicts Our Lord using the imagery of a shepherd and sheep to describe his relationship with us, his followers and disciples. This year, (10: 1-10) Jesus warns his hearers about falsehood – false shepherds who are strangers to the flock, thieves and brigands. The Covid-19 crisis has caused us all to think about pastoral ministry and what we’re praying about today – how do we carry it out now? In our parish my colleagues and laypeople are doing a great deal to keep in touch with people as well as possible; also through livestreamed Masses and other services, and reflections in social media, we try to maintain the Church’s teaching ministry at a time when some actually do have more time to think about religious faith at home.
But the message of the gospel reading today is that there’s more – the danger of thieves and brigands. Part of the Church’s pastoral and teaching ministry has to be about warning people about falsehood and error. Christian faith rests on the assertion that we can say that some things are true – about God, about how we should live – and the other side of that coin is that some things are not true. The present crisis has enabled us to see a little more clearly where there is falsehood in the world – shown, for example, by some of the flawed ways in which some governments have responded to the crisis. We also see more clearly how the way we run the world is flawed and often based on false views. The pastor who has seen this most clearly is Pope Francis himself: in his daily homilies and messages, he’s managed to combine his deep compassion for those who are suffering with asking challenging questions about how the world is run. This is the task of the whole Church: so in this country our Bishops Conference in a number of statements has spoken out about the priorities we ought to have at this time.
There is more information about Vocations in this diocese to be found today on the diocesan website: CLICK HERE.
Please pray today for your clergy and Religious in this parish, and for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and Religious life throughout the world.
Have a good Sunday and take care