Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He invites us to follow him and lays down his life to rebuild the bridge of reconciliation between God and humanity. He is the gate of the sheepfold and we can only be saved when we pass through him. Peter, in the first reading, and Paul, in the second reading, both encourage us to return to the fold; Easter, the celebration of the salvation acquired for us by the Lamb, is a reminder of the need to follow the shepherd.
The fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, is also celebrated by the Church as a day of prayers for vocations. We are all called to minister in this Church. Some are called to minister as parents, teachers, catechists and preachers of the word, others are called to religious life, as deacons or priests, or as missionaries.
Together with the Church, Joseph De Piro celebrated Vocations Sunday. It was an opportunity for him to speak about his own young society. He encouraged young men to join his society by writing about the missionary religious vocation in the almanac he published: San Pawl: Almanakk tal-Istitut tal-Missjoni.
Following are some quotes from articles published by De Piro.
“God calls missionaries in a variety of ways; he invites them to go out into the world to preach the good news. Some hear the call during a sermon; others feel called reading a letter sent to them by a friend, who has himself been to the missions or will be going there …. God is still calling; it is up to us to answer with the same generosity of our father St Paul: ‘Lord, what do you want me to do? I am here to serve you.’”
“Those who form part of God’s household, are transformed into a channel of grace between God and their family. Through their relationship with God, they sanctify the bonds with those around them, and even though they may be distant from their parents, brothers or sisters, the love for their family stays alive and pure. They often think of their family and never cease to ask God to send his blessings upon them.”
“The missionary vocation is a privileged calling; but it also carries with it great sacrifices. The missionary has to separate himself from his environment, his country and his relatives. However, those called happily follow in the way of the cross. They perform this great sacrifice whole-heartedly. When they leave everything to follow Jesus, they feel very satisfied.”