HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY

HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY

Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 22; 1Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10

The basic theme in today’s readings is the Good Shepherd. And so, this Sunday is referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday”.  It is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations; when we pray in a special way for vocations to the priesthood and religious life and by extension for all the baptized who are called to serve the Lord in their own capacities as  parents, teachers, and leaders in the various spheres of life. These are shepherds in their various capacities. The readings today affords us the opportunity to reflect on the Good Shepherd.

In the Old Testament, God himself is represented as the shepherd of his people. Psalm 95:7 “He is our God and we are his people whom he shepherds”. In Isaiah 40:11 the scriptures speaks of the future Messiah who “Like a shepherd feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the young with care”. In the New Testament Jesus is the Good Shepherd. In John 10:11 he says “I am the good shepherd”; in Matt. 9:36 Jesus is the Good Shepherd who had compassion on the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Beloved in Christ, Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”. This Psalm happens to be the responsorial psalm of today. This psalm gives us a breakdown of the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep. It expresses the passionate care and love of a shepherd for his sheep. It speaks about “pastures” – a spiritual sustenance provided by the Shepherd. Speaking about water, the Psalmist says the shepherd revives our souls near restful waters. Every Christian seeks for this revival; God is the source of this revival. When we are dry, He revives us. The psalmist went further to explain that life can present us with the valley and the shadow of death, sicknesses and diseases are shadows of death; but the Psalmist says that with his crook and his staff the shepherds guides us. The crook and staff are the word of God by which we are guided until goodness and mercy begin to follow us so that we can dwell in his kingdom eternally.

In the first reading Peter occupied the office of shepherd. He addressed the crowd on what to do to gain eternal life. This message of peter was not just for the crowed as at then, but for all of us. We should repent and be baptized in order for us to be saved. Every shepherd seeks the well-being and salvation of his people. In the second reading Peter invites all of us to return to him the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. Though we are called Christians the feedback from our daily life in the society shows we are yet to imitate Christ.  If we do not return to him then we have no place in the sheepfold which is his Kingdom.

The gospel presents us with the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep, he leads and they follow, they hear his voice and they follow. Today, people even hear his voice and refuse to follow. They read the scriptures and disregard its instruction. Jesus also describes himself  as the gate by implication Jesus speaks of thieves and robbers who come into the fold through other ways. These are they who don’t follow due process to occupy office of leadership, these are they who preach false doctrine, they tell lies to get followers, their churches are packed full but with no relevance in eternity. Therefore, if we must have relevance in heaven we must pass through gate, Jesus the way, the truth and the life.

Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai

The Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life

Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world! We humbly beg of Thee to manifest in Thy Church the Spirit Whom Thou didst so abundantly bestow upon Thy Apostles. Call, we pray Thee, very many to Thy priesthood and to the religious life. And may zeal for Thy glory and the salvation of souls inflame those whom Thou hast chosen; may they be saints in Thy likeness, and may Thy Spirit strengthen them. O Jesus, give us priests and religious according to Thine own Heart!
O Mary, Mother of Jesus! Obtain for fervent souls the grace to hear and the courage to follow thy Divine Son in the path of religious perfection.
Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of Virgins, pray for us.



Letter on the Month of May – Full text, including prayers

Vatican News provides the full text of Pope Francis’ Letter on the Month of May, addressed to all the faithful throughout the world.

Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

          The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family.  The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.
          For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May.  This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities.  The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.

          I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you.  I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

          Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial.  I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me.  I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020 Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

FIRST PRAYER

O Mary,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.

“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.Amen.

We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

SECOND PRAYER

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic.  Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply.  Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them.  Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew.  Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others.  Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need.  Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary.  Amen.

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Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria. He was ordained October 20th, 2018. He offers his daily homilies, talks and articles that bother on, faith, theology, morals and many other burning issues in religion and politics. Fr. Daniel writes poems, inspirational quotes and clips.

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