Good Shepherd Sunday .DSP for Vocations to the Priesthood & Religious Life.. ..if we believe in the power of intercessionary prayer , the prayer that asks with quiet confidence for divine intervention into a situation or cause of significant need, then does prayer for vocations at this moment of time in the life of the Church in general, & into Benedictine religious life in particular, merit a divine response ? ..are there young men & women in his locality who feel called to consider a journey of discernment in listening to the divine whisper to “come follow me”?.. ..& equally importantly, have we in this valley, religious communities who are fit for purpose in welcoming nurturing & loving these few precious lambs into safe healthy & homely sheepfolds?.. ..big questions for big hearts who are prepared to risk reading Gods dream & responding unconditionally..
“I know my own & my own know me..” ; Lord have mercy “..other sheep not of this fold I must love as well..” ; Christ have mercy “..they too [like us] will listen to my voice..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..there are other sheep who are not of this fold & these I have to lead as well..they too will listen to my voice”..Swaledales & Herdwicks of my Christmas Eve homily..if you were here & if you listened to my voice..I shaped prayed these thoughts Tues night & on Wed morning one of you said “I thought of you last night as I watched lovely programme on Herdwicks”..or when I gently enquire of strange face coming out after Sunday Mass if they come regularly “no Father I’m a Herdwick!”..does priesthood, the calling of a hired man, come any better? am I a shepherd or a hired man?.”the hired man since he is not the shepherd, & the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep & runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming..because he is only a hired man he has no concern for the sheep”..I was in St Benedicts PS on Tues for a Stds & Perfmnce Com meeting..a privilege..a 2hr meeting where our Head of School, a hired woman, was challenged in most impressive professional & pastoral way by fellow Gov of mine Chair of S&P Comm as they listened to each other, shared responded & grew in knowledge depth & loving understanding of the young lambs in their care/ our care..where mention of salary/payment for hours of work in contract, or out of generous service to this flock of beloved sheep & lambs, parents & children, would be inappropriate, a downright insult..good teachers & good shepherds do it for love..waiting patiently for divine moment when dependent lamb suddenly discovers their ability to answer their own question..to eat grass rather than suckle milk..the sparkle in their eye..diamond in their soul is worth every crisis sleepless night & setback..the hired brought in, bought in, for this..for that which money can’t buy.. discipleship of loving service & self sacrifice for our lambs that is priceless..if any of you have any doubts that our children are not receiving truly outstanding care love & learning come to see me & I will joyfully tell you what I saw & heard last Tues evg..resurrection in progress..“if you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple & asking how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, &would be glad to tell the whole people of Israel that it was by the name of Jesus Christ that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy here in your presence today”..plenty of questionings fresh & sour about what is going on in our School..about acts of loving kindness towards the educationally disabled or disadvantaged, slow learning as well as fit healthy & skipping lambs..well I am glad to tell you & the whole of village that it is by the name of Jesus Christ that these lambs are now able to stand up healthily impressively & tell of their experiences in our flock..55% RC 45% other denominations..”other sheep that are not of this flock & these I have to lead as well”..there will be one flock one shepherd, as I reminded & encouraged the Herdwicks who came to Monica Teasdales Requiem on Tuesday, when I invited them forward sadly not yet for Communion but for a blessing, in anticipation of kairos moment when Holy Spirit, not our hired &timid hierarchies, decide we are ready, finally & for eternity, to become one flock..diamond class wise sheep not herded dependent sucklers.. we underestimate the quality of our lambs our hired teachers & our generous governors at our peril..as their nurturing of our future in this safe healthy homely sheepfold is voiced heard made sacred by you here..Mon evg a delayed first Communion class after School in Parish Hall..we finish each session in Church, to genuflect to tabernacle, to whisper not speak, & to light a candle..last Mon showed them stands in front of altar awaiting arrival of Monica Teasdales coffin in Church overnight, as she was on her way to heaven..little Barney Laird spoke up “so when Monica gets to heaven tomorrow my mummy will be there to welcome her!”..said with beaming smile & belief many of us can only wonder about..come &see..believe & taste..are there potential priests & religious in your family & in our parish sheepfold who would feel inspired called willing to stand here as a fellow hireling of mine & keep the flame alive?..the dream that, in divine/kairos time, Barneys insight into that wonderful meeting in heaven last Wed morning will become real here on earth..”keep the flame of faith alive”..is it & will you?.. [4thEasterYrBJn10;11-18]