Sunday, April 25, 2010

EASTER JOY: The Shepherd calls.

In just a few weeks we will kick off the playoffs in our spring sports. All of our players who have qualified will have very different expectations, but all would like to win. Some of the athletes will simply be glad to be there and will enjoy the experience whatever happens. Other players however will be expecting so much more. To be part of the team that wins is the highest achievement any athlete can attain. It would certainly be helpful if we could bottle whatever formula is needed to win a championship.

All the teams that take part in a championship have, by and large, the best players a school can offer. They are good players. The teams that win have ‘great’ players. Players that are one step ahead of the rest. They are not just born as great players. They certainly do have natural talent, but what they have more than most is a passion to win. This 'fire' inspires those around them. The more of these types of players you have on your team the greater chance of victory. Yet when all of these great players were at school you probably couldn’t tell them apart from the rest.

When you look at a flock of sheep, they too look pretty much the same; it’s hard to tell one from another and yet they are all different. When a shepherd calls them, they don’t all necessarily respond at the same time. There are usually one or two who have the greatest desire to follow and so draw the rest of the flock around them. It’s not that they’re the quickest or perhaps even the smartest, they simply recognise something in the shepherd that attracts them and they want to follow his call.

Christ, The Good Shepherd, is calling. Among the flock of His Church are people who follow Him in so many ways whether it is as a Teacher, Doctor or Insurance Worker. There are others who follow Christ in their vocation to be a parent or as a married person. But there are others who feel a call to take a particular role of leadership in the Church’s flock, as priests, deacons or in consecrated life. Like the sheep it is not that these people are necessarily the quickest or smartest, but they too recognise something in the Shepherd that attracts them. These are not people who will succeed in getting a greater reward when the Good Shepherd brings them to their promised pasture; they are simply the ones who take a lead because of their overwhelming desire to follow.

People who have answered the call to these vocations are seen as leaders because their visible desire to follow Christ encourages others to ask “Why?” What is it that attracts them to follow this true God, true man; Jesus Christ? However, unlike the great lacrosse players they are not the star players in God’s team. On the contrary, to truly be a follower of Christ is to want what Christ wants. The greatest desire of one in consecrated life is to enable others to be stars. Stars, who in the life of the Church, are the saints.

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. And it gives us an opportunity to look and acknowledge the leaders who accompanied us in our journey. We also pray that others of those people among us at Mass today, who we know to have an overwhelming desire to follow Christ, will be open to the call in the Church, the flock of Christ.