When was Good Shepherd Sunday Introduced?
Pope St. Paul VI saw a problem toward the end of the Second Vatican Council. Among the numerous challenges the Church faced, one of the most disturbing was a drop-off in the number of men entering seminary and women entering convents. And so, just seven months as Pope, on a Saturday, April 11, 1964, the eve of the Sunday called The Good Shepherd Sunday, he established the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. For this reason, this day is also known in the Catholic Church as Vocations Sunday.
A Call to Action and the Need for Vocations
In this Pope St Paul VI reminds us WHY we need vocations: namely, because our world is in need of salvation! And thus we need men and women who will radically dedicate 100% of their lives to spreading the Gospel of Jesus. This means we must be ready to leave behind whatever would keep us tied down and prevent us from making a definitive choice.
Thus Vocation Sunday not just about praying for more priests and nuns, rather, it is a call to action and not a “feast day,” per se. In essence, the Holy Father is saying to all Catholics around the world, “People of God, let us pray for what we need and let us take up this challenge!” We are called to be bold and decisive in seeking God’s plan for our lives and in responding to the Lord’s call involves putting ourselves on the line and facing a great challenge.
Making Your Life’s Decisions Count and the Courage to Say Yes
How can we make our life’s decisions count?
Our Christian life finds expression in those decisions that, while giving a precise direction to our own personal journey, also contributes to the growth of God’s kingdom in our world. We achieve this precisely in and through the Ecclesial community where our Christian life is born, body and spirit nurtured and mind is developed, especially through her Liturgy. The liturgy nourishes us with God’s word and fills us with the grace of the sacraments; this way from an early age, we are taught the art of prayer, cultivated with fraternal sharing and enabled to grow in self-sacrificing love.
Unquestionably, the Church is our mother because in this way she matures us to new life and leads us to Christ. Consequently, when we see her face marred by human frailty and sin, we must love her, and make her ever more beautiful and radiant, so that she can bear witness and nurture God’s love in the world by the giving of our lives to her and for her.
The Courage to Say “Yes!”
This call to action of Pope St Paul VI was not for something he saw in the sixties, but it is actually very relevant today. It does take a lot of courage to say ‘yes’ to a vocation especially in today’s culture. But by the same token people are looking for contentment and fulfilment. And where do they go and seek it? That’s the question, and Jesus is saying to you, ‘come to me to the Good Shepherd.’ Will you hear His voice and be His sheep or Shepherd?
Written by Fr Ignatius Yeo, Parish Priest