My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and Rite of Confirmation for our Cathedral parish. It is also the day when the universal Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
The more we hear his voice and follow him in becoming priests, deacons, religious and consecrated men and women. So let’s especially pray for them today.
And we have the beautiful celebration of the Rite of Confirmation, so dear candidates for confirmation, today is a great day for each one of you. You are going to receive the Holy Spirit in a Sacramental way — the grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Today, as you receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, you’re asked if you really believe in Jesus, the Son of God. Perfect God and perfect man. It’s a big question. In fact, I always say that it is the most important question that any of us will ever have to answer.
Because how we answer it is going to determine how we are going to live. The commitments and choices we make. Our friendships.
It is also going to determine what happens to us, in this life and for all eternity. Obviously, the answer to that question is: we do. We believe that Jesus is Second Person of the Trinity coming to earth. Perfect God and perfect man. Coming to be with us and to redeem us through his passion and death and his glorious Resurrection.
So as you receive this Holy Spirit today, never forget that God came to show us the face of God. He came to speak to us with the voice of God. And he came to show each one of us who we are meant to be.
I think it’s special also that you are receiving this Sacrament of Confirmation on this Good Shepherd Sunday.
As we heard in the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus describes himself as the “good shepherd.”
In the Scriptures, shepherd is the word that is used to describe God and those who care for God’s people.
So, Jesus is telling us today that through him, God is gathering his people — He is gathering you and me. And he is guiding us and leading us to the “pasture” of heaven.
So, the readings today invite us to reflect on our own relationship with Jesus our Good Shepherd.
Jesus tells us today:
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me ….
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
So, Jesus is telling us that he knows us. And that he wants us to know him. First, we need to know his love. We need to believe in his love. Then he’s telling us that the “good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
And he has done that! He has laid down his life for you and for me. He gives his life to us — his body and blood — each time we celebrate the Eucharist. This is how much the Good Shepherd loves each one of us.
So what is it that we understand. We now understand how much Jesus loves us, then we can trust him. We can trust in him, depend on him. And where he leads us, we can follow with confidence — total confidence. So we need to make the love of Jesus — the Good Shepherd — the foundation of our lives.
Then in the first reading today, St. Peter tells us that there is “no other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are saved.”
His name, my dear brothers and sisters, is our name.
St. Peter tells us that his name — Jesus’ name — is going to save us. Where? Well, we are the flock he shepherds. We’re Christians, Catholics, disciples of Jesus Christ!
And then St. John is telling us in today’s second reading that we may be called the “children of God. So, we are!”
We are God’s sons and daughters! Each of us can approach our God with such a beautiful confidence. Each of us can say to him, “My Father! God, my Father!”
It’s beautiful. We just don’t think about it as often as we should. But today, as we celebrate this Good Shepherd Sunday, it’s a beautiful time to reflect on that. Because, to be Christians, Catholics — to be children of God — means that we have a “vocation.”
Jesus the Good Shepherd is calling to us. He is giving us the way for our lives to follow.
Jesus says also todays: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice. And there will be one flock, and one shepherd.”
Jesus gives us a mission. He’s calling us — each one of us — to be “good shepherds” and to help others to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
So, today, we especially need to pray for the grace to respond to his love. For the grace to be good listeners and good followers of our Good Shepherd. And to become Good Shepherds for the people of our time.
Let me suggest three practical things to make it happen in our lives every day. First, talk to Jesus in pray, as often as we can. Then, read about his life in the Gospels. Get to know him. And then, do good to others.
Finally, my dear candidates for Confirmation, never forget that from now on you have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit — the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit — are going to help you to make the right decisions in life. Wisdom. Understanding. Right Judgement. Courage. Knowledge. Piety. And Reverence.
With an act of faith and with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to respond to Christ’s call to you. And you will have a beautiful life.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary intercede for all of us that every one might hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow him and trust in him and love him, until there is one flock and one Shepherd.
1. Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Ps. 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18.