Sunday, May 8
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30
“My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.” In a world with so many voices screaming at the same time, are we capable today of hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice? With so many voices coming at us on so many media, can we hear the One whose voice it most matters to hear? Are we able to hear Him, the necessary first condition for following Him?
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, that should be our first prayer, for our young people and for ourselves, that we may be able to hear Jesus’ voice. Only if we hear the voice of Him who calls us all to proclaim His Good News to the world, of Him who invites us even now to taste the glory of heaven, can we hope to share the eternal life He wants to share with us and with what the Book of Revelation describes as that “great multitude, which no one could count.”
The role of priests, deacons and religious is one of helping God’s people hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Ironically, the one called to this kind of life of service must first hear that voice and respond to it. Many question today whether the voice of the Good Shepherd can indeed be heard in the Church. As we commit ourselves to continued renewal in the Catholic Church in our country and around the world, we renew our faith today in the Church as the Body of Christ, in the Church as the place where the voice of the Risen Christ can be heard in every age.
Thirty years ago this weekend, these were the readings that were proclaimed at my first Masses of Thanksgiving, following my ordination to the priesthood, on May 8, 1992. Like the Gentiles in our readings from the Acts of the Apostles, I was “delighted” then and I “glorified the word of the Lord.” Priests still need to hear the voice of the Lord today, precisely so that they can be what Paul and Barnabas said that they were: “a light to the Gentiles… an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”
While we all need to listen to the voice of the Lord and help others to hear it, my particular invitation to all of you is to pray for vocations to the religious life, the diaconate and the priesthood, that many will come forward to help you hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. As rector of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, I ask you to pray as well that those he calls may indeed, in recognizing his voice, follow him with love.
In a particular way I ask you to pray for those who are being ordained to the priesthood in the coming weeks. This weekend, three of our seminarians are being ordained to the priesthood in Miami and two more next weekend in St. Ignatius Loyola Cathedral in Palm Beach Gardens. Please pray for them and their classmates being ordained between now and mid-July. We all need them to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd always, so as to help us to recognize and listen to that voice as well.
May we hear His voice, the voice that announces life.
Father Alfredo Hernandez is rector/president of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.