Fourth Sunday of Easter
Through missionaries we become missionaries
World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Good Shepherd Sunday
Throughout the letters of Paul, he speaks strongly of the unity of faith and love that binds all Christians together. Of that unity, he teaches that we are not all the same. Each has his gifts, each has her role within the mission, each is a unique member of the Body of Christ the Church. When all the members, in their uniqueness and unity, are faithful to the graces of God they will be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit and fulfill their mission to bring others to the heart of Christ making them delighted and glorifying the Word with them.
But sheep, as we are called in the Gospel today, are not perfect; sometimes we wander. But Jesus, like a good shepherd will be keeping watch over us and when one of the sheep starts to wander away, just as a shepherd whistles to his sheep dog, and the dog sprints off in pursuit of the wanderer, chasing it back into the safety of the flock; he calls out to the angels, the saints and some of us to find the lost sheep of his flock.
Every Christian is a missionary. He gives us the living word, grace, and sacraments, and sends us into the world, to gather all the wandering and lost sheep. Our mission is to bring them back to the flock. It's not always easy. It takes all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit given to us, and the use of the theological and cardinal virtues. It takes an ongoing effort on our part to know the faith well enough to be able to answer objections. But above all, it takes sharing Christ's own love for his people, for every person.
Each one of us has an entirely unique circle of acquaintances, an entirely unique network of relationships.
If out of fear or laziness we fail to share the good news of our saving relationship with God, those lives may never receive the light.
It won't be easy - Our own self-centeredness will resist - The devil will throw up obstacles.
But when we care about the people God puts in our path, we will do whatever we can to bring them closer to Christ, because we know that if they go off on their own, they will easily get lost, and they will be vulnerable to attacks, to the deadly lies that say happiness can be found in money, pleasure, prestige, or the glamour of a false religion.
If we stay attentive to opportunities that God sends us to speak clearly and encouragingly to others about the gospel, to invite them to follow Christ, we will spread the light. If we follow in the footsteps of Christ and of the many generations of faithful Christians who have gone before us, if we strive every day to live as Christ would have us live, giving a constant example of kindness, courage, concern for others, forgiveness, responsibility, and hard work, we will spread the light.
We owe our faith and hope to the perseverance of missionaries from the past who, like Paul and Barnabas, carried the torch of truth and grace courageously, never backing down in the face of difficulties, just as Christ himself backed down.
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Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.