Homily – April 22, 2018

Jesus was the master at using images. On our tabernacle we have the vine and its branches. Jesus is the vine all of us are branches drawing life from the vine.

In today’s gospel Jesus uses the image of the shepherd and his sheep. He leads his sheep to feast on green pastures; he goes in search of a lost sheep and restores that sheep to the fold. In the end Jesus the shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, a day we are asked to pray that young men of the parish consider the possibility they might be called to priesthood or religious life. That’s a big challenge for young men today. There are so many more interesting choices offered them in job markets. Still I want you to pray that some of them take the time to think and pray about the possibility of priesthood.

It is no secret there is a shortage of priests. In the corridors of St. Augustine`s seminary there are photos of the men ordained each year. In the 30`s, 40`s, 50`s and 60`s, there could be up to 30 ordinations. In recent years it’s a low at two. A great number of parish priests serving parishes today are not Canadian born. At St. Gabriel`s we are blessed with Fr. Brando, a Passionist from the Philippines and Fr. John a Passionist from Kenya. Without them we Passionists would be hard pressed to serve this parish.

At different times I`ve asked a young man, `have you ever thought of being a priest? They look at me as if I`m out of my mind. It`s disappointing.

I have to tell you I have been happy in my priesthood. As I`ve been told different times` It must be nice, you only work one day a week and your only busy times are Christmas and Easter.` I tell these jokers, ‘don’t knock my racket, get your own’. I have to tell you, my life as a priest has been an embarrassment of blessings, thanks to you good people.

Today we are asked to pray for vocations to the priesthood. But think on this; every one of you are a priest by reason of your baptism. St. Peter tells us, ‘You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God`s own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Every one of you is a member of the priesthood of all believers.

Priests baptize. You baptize your children when you deepen their faith in Father Son and Spirit, a faith with which they were gifted at their baptism. Priests absolve sins. You absolve every time you forgive a person who has wronged you. Priests bless people. You bless others every time you speak kind and encouraging words to others. Priests celebrate the Eucharist and you share in that celebration when you consciously share in the prayers of the Mass. Priests offer the sacrament of the sick to those who are ill. By your presence and care of family members and friends you strengthen that anointing. Priests preach the gospel. You preach it too as beat witness to your faith by what you say and what you do. We are all priests.

At this Mass of the Good Shepherd as we pray that young men be moved to consider the ordained priesthood, we pray as well that each of us be faithful to our own form of priesthood and that others follow us in the ways we live out our own priesthood.