Need for Good Shepherds

Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD April 25, 2021 / 4th Sunday of Easter

A man wanted to know what profession his four kids would pursue. So in a small room, on a table, he placed a stethoscope, a book on civil law and a Bible.

He then called his kids one after the other and made them pick what they wanted. One took the stethoscope. “Ah, he wants to be a doctor,” the man whispered.

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The other one got the book on civil law. “He wants to be a lawyer.” Then the next one took the Bible. “He wants to be a priest.”

Then came the youngest. He went round and round the table. Finally, he took all the items! Puzzled for a moment, the man, thought: “Ah, he wants to be a politician.”

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Today, “Good Shepherd Sunday,” is designated by the Catholic Church worldwide to focus attention on the vocation of priests, nuns and lay brothers, and to pray for more vocations.

Every year thousands graduate from various courses in our country. While there’s an oversupply of secular and vocational courses, there is an under supply of religious graduates.

When I entered Christ the King Mission Seminary in Quezon City, we were seven in high school undergrad class. Little by little, our rank dwindled until I was the only one left. I told myself I was the class “valedictorian”—but no salutatorian! When I was nearing ordination, I joined the seminarians who came from the first batch and SVD seminarians from Cebu.

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It’s not easy to embrace the religious life because of the lengthy formation years and the requirements of living the perpetual vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.

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However, spiritual shepherds are indispensable in the work of the Church. Only ordained priests can dispense the sacraments like baptism, celebrating Holy Mass, hearing confession, burying the dead.

During the lockdowns when the churches were closed, people missed desperately their church obligations. The churches resorted to zoom Masses, live streaming, and virtual reception of the Holy Communion.

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We need to recruit and nurture more vocations, especially from families since they are the seedbed of vocations. Parents can show their love for God by supporting and encouraging their children who have the aspiration to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

I remember a seminarian who was close to becoming ordained an SVD priest. He was hesitant to continue, thinking of his widowed mother caring for seven siblings all girls, and he was the eldest.

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He told his mother of his desire to leave the seminary and help her. The mother wrote him a heartwarming letter. She said: “My son, don’t worry about me and your sisters. If God wants you to become a priest, I won’t block your way. We will manage to survive with God’s help.” That boost his aspiration and went on to become a priest and missionary working abroad.

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ASK YOURSELF: How can I help promote more vocations to the priesthood, brotherhood and sisterhood? Do I pray constantly as the Lord said to pray for “more laborers to work in His vineyard”?

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THE LIGHTER SIDE. (Priests are only human). A young priest accompanied a convict to the electric chair. What will he say to console a man about to die? “Goodbye? Take care? See you later?”

Visibly nervous, the priest was at a loss for the right words to say. Finally, as the convict got to the electric chair, the priest patted him on the head and said: “Be strong… MORE POWER TO YOU!” (Priest realized later his farewell could have been misconstrued as: “more electric power”).

* * *

A woman was badly injured in an accident. A priest happened to be around the scene. He had difficulty getting answers to his questions about her condition.

He called up an ambulance on his cell phone saying, “A woman has been injured,” he reported. “She’s about 38 and appears to be in great pain.”

Whereupon, the woman looked up angry and snapped: “Stupid, I’m 30!” (Poor Padre!).

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