My Dear Friends when Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd he had given a hint to the people listening to him. Do you know what the hint was? “I am your God. I am still in your midst.” This Sunday as we begin the week of prayer for new vocations to the priesthood and the religious life I would like to say to the young people: If the image of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd speaks to you in a personal way maybe it is because the Lord Jesus is calling you to resemble him in the midst of God’s people of our own time. Don’t be afraid, but listen to his voice in your soul. What may look like a difficult and challenging path to choose can become your path with Christ where you discover the truth of his words: “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” The Gospel passage for this Mass is not a long passage and in that relatively short reading we heard Jesus speaking five times about “laying down his life for his sheep.” If Jesus kept repeating that so many times it means that what he was saying was of extreme importance. Laying down one’s life for his friends is of extreme importance indeed. It includes shifting the focus point from myself, my own needs and dreams to the other person. It means discovering that serving others, making others happy is more important that being served or looking for the ways to make myself happy. As the Bible says: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”
Dear young Friends let me finish with the words of our Oblate Cardinal Francis George who died a few days ago after a life time struggle with his disability caused by polio he contracted as a young boy and cancer. He could find many reasons to complain but he never did. In fact when he was appointed as Archbishop of Chicago, which is one of the biggest catholic dioceses in the world, he held a meeting with the priests of Chicago and he said to them: “Never feel sorry for yourself.” Everyone could tell that it came from the gut. He knew the happiness of laying down his life for others, happiness of forgetting himself in order to make others happy by drawing them to Jesus. Do you reckon it speaks something to you? So don’t be afraid. Follow it up.