Gospel Reflection – 4th Sunday Easter – Cycle B – John 10:11-18     

Today we celebrate world day of prayer for Vocations, and I don’t think it too selfish to note our interest in monastic life – and Cistercian life in particular.
Cistercian life is a form of contemplative Christian living which finds its root in prayer, work and study, with liturgical life as a daily, hourly framework. The immersiveness of monastic life can be off-putting as well as inspiring. Married life may not be dissimilar, in this regard. The very aspects that draw us can provide great difficulty, too.
Good shepherd Sunday is a reminder that we should put out trust in God, perhaps more than in ourselves. The pushes and pulls within living out a vocation never reduce, not fully. The vocation is a template, a desktop framework if you will, into which may be inserted our trust in God. Our anchor points are our daily observance: in our case the liturgy and the prayer, the meal times and the waking and sleep times. Our daily structure is more rigorous than many lifestyles, and some liken it to military service in its precision. But when, like Mary, we accept this framework, it becomes through practice the passive medium through which we strive for direct encounter with God.
Many would find it strange that such peace and freedom may arise from such rigidity. But let us tell you, that we also are surprised. It is not obvious, even in today’s world.
This life structure is what we call vocation. The plot of land which we mark out to nurture our garden in. We may nt the plants, we may water, but it is the elements, the seasons, the good weather and the bad that grows the flowers and the fruits. So too, we are allowing God to build us up through the vocation of monasticism, growing us from within the walls that keep us together.
One of the issues with Vocations Sunday is that many think it is simply an opportunity to pray for OTHER people. But today is for ourselves, too. Good Shepherd Sunday is a time for us, not only to pray for others and ourselves, but to reassess our personal vocations. To keep the garden theme: to do some spiritual weeding (not spiritual reading!). Why not, then, use today and the week ahead to take stock of what our vocation is, develop a closer relationship with God within that parameter, and to work to support others as they develop their journeys.


The Lord be with you             
And with your spirit.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 10:11-18           
Gloy to you, O Lord

Jesus said:
‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his lif3a, e for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.
And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and
these I have to lead as well.
They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.

The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will,
and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again;
and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

The Gospel of the Lord.            Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.