The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday so on this Sunday we reflect on what Jesus said about Good Shepherd. In today Gospel, Jesus said that a good shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out to pasture, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him. One additional quality of a good shepherd can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, “If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” In the Gospel of John, we also hear Jesus say the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In this modern day, most of us never see a shepherd and how ways a shepherd tends, herds, feeds, and guards sheep. It seems to be a lot of work. It is also a lot fo work for the the shepherd in the Church. Priests, brothers sisters, catechist, deacon, leaders of basic Christian communities, parish councils, are all shepherds in the Church. They are called to tend the needs of the parishioners, to look after them, feed them with spiritual food, and many times material food too, to guard them from temptation, and to call the missing ones home.
Each parishioner, most often a woman, has her own unique problems and unique answers to her problems. For each woman who shares her problems with me, I listen, offer suggestions, and pray with her.
The Church in Hong Kong is growing and has a lot of potential for evangelization. There are 1,701 catechists, 291 priests, 26 deacons, 68 brothers and 474 sisters in the Diocese of Hong Kong Diocese to meet the needs of 581,000 Catholics both locals and foreigners. In 2016 there were 3,200 adults were baptized. They attended the RCIA classes for two years and joined a large welcoming event for the newly baptized in a stadium. Social Outreach in Hong Kong is led by Caritas, which has more than 5,500 full time staff and over 10,000 volunteers. There are only 11,225 Catholic students among 149,626 students. I, myself attended Catholic schools since I was in kindergarten and was baptized when I was in the third year of senior high school.
The fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as the "World Day of Prayer for Vocations," which is to response to the Lord’s instruction to “Pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” We may pray this prayer often, not only this Sunday, but do we pray that we, ourselves, are given the grace to answer “yes” to the call to be priest, religious brother and sisters? We may pray for the young people to answer this call, but do we pray for our own children, nieces and nephews, to be given the grace to answer “yes” to this call?
Actions speak louder than words. We, the shepherds in the Church, give the witness of our lives to the people around us, including listening to their problems, being a friend, and praying with them. Are we a Good Shepherd as Jesus asks us to be? Do we ask God to give us the grace to answer “yes” to God’s call to priesthood and religious life?
Photo: Sr. Anastasia Lindawati, who is wearing a pink shirt, poses at a retreat with other women religious working in Shenzen. (Courtesy of Sr. Lindawati, from her blog October 2014). Maryknoll Sr. Anastasia Lindawati lives in Hong Kong. She works with volunteers to type out Catholic texts (catechisms, prayers, reflections, etc.), which she then sends to about 1,200 people across China who frequent Catholic chatrooms.