In today’s Gospel Jesus employs the image of a shepherd to describe his relationship to us, his sheep. We are happy to be his sheep because we know his voice; we trust him; he protects us from evil and he gives us life: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” He also speaks of himself as the gate for the sheep. In this image he is the way to salvation: “Whoever enters through me will be saved.” This is similar to his declaring later in John’s gospel: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
This Sunday’s First Reading is appropriate for what was to have been Confirmation Sunday in our deanery, where St. Peter speaks of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the Second Reading St. Peter all who are suffering to be patient—words that comfort us during this pandemic. Appropriate, too, is the familiar verse from Psalm 23, today’s Responsorial Psalm, addressed to our Good Shepherd: “Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for you are at my side, with your rod and your staff that give me courage.”
In the Church Jesus calls men to shepherd his flock as bishops, priests and deacons. Furthermore he calls men and women to consecrate themselves in religious life to guide the flock to the kingdom by their example of vowed poverty, chastity and obedience. Today the Church throughout the world observes a day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. However, on this 57th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis asks all Christ’s faithful to reflect on our vocations. Based on the gospel account of a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 14:22-33, he offers us four key words to help us: gratitude, encouragement, fatigue and praise. Because this message applies to all the baptized, whether we have been called to an ecclesial or secular vocation, especially during this pandemic, I have included the entire message elsewhere in the bulletin.
This past Friday, May 1, was a special day for our diocese and for our country. During a noon Mass at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, Bishop Callahan inaugurated a diocesan Year of St. Joseph on our diocesan patronal feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. Later that afternoon, at 2:00 PM CDT, the bishops of the United States joined the bishops of Canada in reconsecrating our two nations to the Blessed Virgin Mary. So we go forward now, during turbulent times, under the joint patronage of Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church; and St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer and Patron of the Universal Church. Of course we are always under their patronage and the protection of their prayers, but these acts remind and reassure us of that fact.
This would have been the weekend for Confirmation in our entire deanery. Unfortunately, these events have had to be postponed. Nevertheless let us remember these young people in our prayers as well as all who are experiencing turmoil in their lives for whatever reason, especially because of all the disruption caused by the current crisis.
May God bless his people with peace.