|Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor|
“A group of disciples wanted to make the holy one their guru. But the master declined the honor saying, ‘You don’t understand. I am only a finger pointing at the moon. It is the moon you must seek.’” — Sufi tale
In the final reference to shepherd and sheep in Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks most intimately about the relationship he has with his people.
Jesus (shepherd) knows his disciples (sheep). They hear my voice and they follow me. He speaks of no one being able to take them out of his caring hand. His claim for them is that they will never end nor perish.
He further claims all of this to be true, because first they are in the Father’s hand and they were given to him (Jesus) by the Father. It is in this context that he reveals the most amazing claim of all: “the Father and I are one.”
The intimacy, love and caring spoken of here by Jesus could lead one to think that this is all about love and peace. But when read in the context of the whole chapter clearly danger, wolves, thieves and marauders lurk everywhere to destroy the sheep.
Joined with today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see that the message of Jesus draws forth jealousy, hatred and wrath.
True discipleship brings joy and peace; but often those gifts are the fruit that emerges from suffering, pain, rejection, jealousy and other realities of sin.
In this world filled with so many voices — and most of them overwhelmingly loud — it might seem impossible to hear the voice of the Lord.
It won’t be because it is loud or piercing that we shall hear it. It is because it is persistent and profoundly loving; the intimacy of the Lord’s voice makes it easy to hear, understand and follow.
There is still a deeper significance to the shepherd and his sheep. In his deep, abiding desire to protect and care for his sheep, Jesus shares this “shepherding” with sinful men in the sacrament of priesthood.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, everyone at Mass today is invited to “have the eyes and the voice of Jesus” in seeing and recognizing the qualities of priesthood.
Furthermore, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, all are asked to “voice the call of the Lord” by inviting someone to consider a vocation to priesthood.
If you see the qualities of a vocation, give voice to that personal call. Ask someone to consider a vocation — calling — to priesthood, the diaconate or religious life.
Invite them to discernment — to listen to a possible inner call, an inner voice. Tell them you will pray for them, be at their side, and encourage them to consider the call.
Certainly, no harm could come from that and, quite possibly through you, someone may hear the call.
Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email email@example.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.