4th Sunday Of Easter
Fr. Paul Patrick, O.M.I.
Posted: April 24, 2021
Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter and simultaneously, the 58th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today we highlight in a specific way the importance of young people discerning and then realizing their vocation within the Church, be it a call to be married, to the priesthood or religious life, or to single life.
In the Gospel today, Jesus gives the powerful analogy of a shepherd who is ready to give up His life for the sheep under His care. He contrasts this model of “Good Shepherd” who is completely invested with the welfare of the sheep to that of a hired hand, who will run when danger approaches. Jesus states “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away” John 10:11-13
The difference lies in one word – investment. The Good Shepherd is deeply invested in the sheep and therefore he cares. The employee or hired hand, also cares for the sheep, but only in as much as he or she is paid. If there is danger involved, they flee because for an employee with little to nothing invested, it’s not worth risking their life over.
- Practices of many successful businesses
It is no coincidence that many successful businesses have adopted the model of giving their employees a stake in their company and treating them like partners rather than hirelings in order to increase productivity. When an employee feels a connection to their place of work and feels their contributions have value and if they are invested in their company, then they are more likely to contribute in terms of productivity.
- What do young people want from the Church?
In March of 2018, a delegation of 300 young people with representation from the entire Catholic world met with Pope Francis to discuss the present realities facing young people in the Church. In preparation for this meeting, over 15,000 young people participated through social media to send their comments and reactions on their life of faith in the Catholic Church and how they lived out their vocation. This culminated in a 16 page document preparing for the Synod of Bishops in October 2018 under the topic “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.
There were many memorable quotes in this document, but this one in particular stands out: “Young people who are disconnected from or who leave the Church do so after experiencing indifference, judgment and rejection”. Young people seek a sense of belonging. They seek investment in their local parishes and Church structures, seeking to be an integral part of it’s mission and existence. Additionally, the report goes on to state “the Church must involve young people in its decision-making processes and offer them more leadership roles” which “must be on a parish, diocesan, national and international level”.
- Sense of belonging and investment
Dear brothers and sisters, a healthy sense of belonging and investment in any endeavour – either secular or religious – naturally tends to create commitment and dedication to the cause. If we want our young people to involve the Church in their vocations – the most important steps of their life – then we must all strive to promote a sense of belonging, welcome and investment in our parishes. In this way, we will create a climate in which youth feel confident in following in the footsteps of Jesus the Good Shepherd who gives up His life in the service of His people.