'Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest (Mk 9:37)'
Every 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, which is also Vocation Sunday. Vocations are gifts from God who love us and they are essential for the growth and life of the Church. The Church cannot survive without the willing yes of the faithful whom God calls to continue the mission and presence of Christ in the world.
The world needs priests who are anointed by Christ and ordained to be the living presence of Jesus, who is the Teacher, Priest and Shepherd of God’s people. The Church also needs those called by God to consecrate themselves completely to Him for the sanctification and the service of the Church whether as religious or missionaries. The Church needs as well the essential contribution and dynamism of the laity who are called by God to be leaven in the world and to carry out the different ministries of the Church, most especially in remote areas where there are not enough priests.
As the Lord said: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."(Mt 9:37). "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned (Mk 16:15).
Priests are the “alter Christus”, chosen by God to represent Christ, the Head of the Church. The authority, dignity and power of the priest is not meant to serve his own ego, but to serve the Body of Christ, the Church, through the preaching of the Gospel, the celebration of the sacraments and the service of God’s people, especially, the poor.
A priest remains as head and leader of his flock. But, his leadership and authority is not meant for his own honor and power but directed towards the service of the Church. The priest is a servant of God in the manner of Christ the humble and faithful Servant of God,
who laid down his life for his sheep. He bestows on the people the graces and merits which Christ won on the cross when he celebrates the Eucharist and through the Sacrament of Penance forgives the sins of the people. He brings the people to Christ who says,"Iamthebreadoflife. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (Jn 6:35).
As baptized Christians and members of the Church, we have a sacred duty to promote vocations and further the Kingdom of God. The world hungers for Christ. Satan never tires from poisoning the minds and hearts of people and leading them away from God to their own eternal destruction. There is no more important and honorable employment than working for the salvation of souls. “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? (Mk 8:35-36)
I appeal to all our faithful to ardently promote vocations for the priesthood. If the world needs Christ, it also needs the priest who makes Christ present in our midst. So that we may have more priests, Jesus asks us to pray for this sacred gift from God, the Lord of the harvest. I ask all of you to pray first of all for priests so that they may faithfully live their priestly vows, zealously carry out their mission, and attract young people to this vocation. I ask you also to pray for families so that Christ may be the center of their homes because the seed of vocation is born first of all in Christian homes where love, prayer and service are a part of their daily living.
Let us pray most especially for young people so that they may grow in faith and realize that that they can only fulfill themselves as they give themselves to others in love. May they live in close union with Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6). May they not be enticed by the glamour and empty promises of the world, but reach out to that which is greater than themselves and which lead to eternal life. May they observe the commandments of God and sanctify themselves through the frequent reception of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. May they be bold and courageous enough to say Yes to God like Mary who believed and surrendered herself totally to God’s loving call and plan for her life.
Finally, let us not be shy in actively proposing to young people who have the human and Christian qualities the beauty of the priesthood and the Consecrated Life. Through the help of their parents, teachers, parish priests and the youth ministry, may they be accompanied in the discernment of their vocation in life. Let us involve them in the different activities of the Christian community whether in catechizing children, leading in song and prayer, serving at the altar, or visiting and assisting the poor. And let us entrust them to the prayers of Mary and Joseph so that they may be able to discern their vocation in life and be able to say Yes to God as they surrender themselves confidently to the will of God.
This month of May, let us pray the rosary daily so that Mary, the Mother of God, may obtain for us the gift of many good and holy vocations for the salvation of the world.
Bp. Rolando C. Santos, CM
Alotau, 2 May 2020
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