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Dear friends,

This Sunday goes by a number of names: The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and, of course, Mother’s Day. Whatever title we call today, they all weave together into a similar theme. The image of the Good Shepherd is quite a tender image, and it is an image that children easily relate to, even if we don’t see shepherds around the city streets these days. The second reading ends with the declaration of God’s promise “to wipe away every tear” from our eyes. On this Mother’s Day, I hope that many of us can remember a childhood moment when our mother wiped away our tears in her tenderness. Our fathers may have done this too but Mums always seem to do it better. Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and there is no greater vocation than that of being a parent. When we think of vocations, we immediately tend to think of priestly and religious life, but being a husband or wife, father or mother is also a vocation. We shouldn’t downplay the calling to married life. Even so, the call to Priesthood is also a call to the best attributes of “fatherhood”. Ordained ministry and religious life is a call to participate in the Church’s mission to work with God to wipe every tear

away from every eye. It is a call to become a “good shepherd” who speaks with the tender voice of Jesus. To quote Pope Francis on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and on this Mother’s Day, and on this Good Shepherd Sunday:

“The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom; it is not a ‘cage’ or a burden to be borne.  On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking…. God in fact desires that our lives not become banal and predictable, imprisoned by daily routine, or unresponsive before decisions that could give it meaning. The Lord does not want us to live from day to day, thinking that nothing is worth fighting for, slowly losing our desire to set out on new and exciting paths…. Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.”

May we pray that each of us will be sustained in our vocation, in whatever circumstance of life to which we are called. Let us also pray that God may continue to call forth good shepherds to lead us into God’s eternal embrace. And happy Mother’s Day!           Fr. Anthony

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