World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life.
Sunday 22nd April: 4th Sunday of Easter (b).
Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. We pray especially that God will give the Church men and women formed in the image of the Good Shepherd who will be priests and religious of the future.
The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles. We hear how Paul and Barnabas preach the Gospel firstly to the Jews but they reject it. They move on to the Gentiles in Antioch where their message is welcomed with great joy.
The second reading is from the Book of Revelation. It contains another part of St. John’s vision of a people persecuted for their faith being rewarded with a share of Christ’s glory in heaven.
In the Gospel, from St. John, we are reminded that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will not allow anyone to snatch from his care the sheep the Father has entrusted to him.
Monday 23rd April: 4th Monday of Easter.
From its earliest beginnings, there was a conflict or tension among some Christians, who believed that a pagan convert had first to become a Jew before becoming a Christian. They criticise Peter but he has the answer ready for them. All of God’s creation is good and of value.
The Gospel again presents us with the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep and they know his voice. He is the gate of the sheepfold.
Tuesday 24th April: 4th Tuesday of Easter.
The scattering after Stephen’s martyrdom led the apostles to different parts of the Greek world where they began to convert pagans. It is at Antioch that the word Christian is used for the first time. It is constantly stressed that all this work is the work of the Holy Spirit
The Shepherd and Sheep relation is used again by Jesus to further the relationship that should exist between Jesus and his people.
Wednesday 25th April: Feast of St. Mark.
A disciple of Peter, Mark writes in simple words how, with Jesus, came the time of salvation and repentance. He shows Jesus both as the Son of God and the Son of Man, whose life led to his death. However, he revealed himself fully in the Resurrection. The disciple must follow his master. He is the patron saint of Venice.
Thursday 30th April: 4th Thursday of Easter.
Paul travels to Cyprus and then on to Pamphylia and Antioch. It is here we hear of his preaching his first great sermon showing that the Saviour is indeed Jesus who has risen from the dead.
For the rest of the Easter season, we have extracts from Jesus’ farewell discourse to the apostles at the Last Supper. Many regard this as his last will and testament.
Friday 1st May: 4th Friday of Easter.
Paul continues his sermon. The people of Jerusalem had not recognised Jesus as the promised Saviour and they crucified him. God raised him from the dead. This is the Good News.
Jesus promises to look after his faithful followers even though they will not see him. He consoles and comforts them as he prepared for his passion.
Saturday 2nd May: 4th Saturday of Easter
Many Jews became Christians as a result of Paul’s sermon. Others tried to turn the crowds against him. He spoke to the pagans but eventually had to leave because of the rejection by the Jews.
Jesus is the way because he shares his life with the Father and with us. He knows what to ask the Father because he prays out of a life lived in a communion of faith and love with Jesus.
He is risen as he said