Hear the Voice of the Good Shepherd
The sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd and they come running. They follow the shepherd who walks ahead of them, and the sheep trust their shepherd because he's always with them. He protects them, nurtures them, leads them to green pastures. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who calls to us, and calls us to eternal life with Him.
The way to eternal life is to heed the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who comes along to call us home to live with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Today, Jesus continues to be the Good Shepherd through his chosen apostles and those who succeeded them. Jesus continues to be visible in the world through his visible Church, but we need bishops and priests to make His voice heard.
Part of our task as believers is to help our young people find their vocation and to say yes to it. We need more priests to say yes to the voice of the Good Shepherd, so let us pray for more vocations - vocations from our own families, because they are out there and they're here at Christ the King.
Full Audio Transcript
00:02 How many of us here have experience with sheep? Anybody? One, two, three, four, five. Not many. Well, I as many of you know, I grew up, uh, in the out on the outskirts of Corvallis, Oregon actually in that stretch of land between Corvallis and Philomath and we grew up on a couple of acres. One of those acres was a fenced pasture, and as a boy my brothers and I would raise lambs for 4-H projects and sell them at the fair. And so I came to know a few things about sheep. I noticed that they're not the brightest of the animal kingdom. They like to huddle together. And except when you're trying to round them up to do something. If it was time to shear them or trim their hooves or go to the fair, it was difficult to, to corral them and to get them to where they need to go.
00:56 The thing I had the most trouble with though is feeding them on school days because we'd have to feed the sheep before we go down to the bus stop to catch the bus to go to school, so you're in your school clothes. If you didn't get out of the pen fast enough, they would come running and they'd wipe the snotty nose on your school pants and then you'd have to endure the ridicule for the rest of the day at school.
01:21 Now, shepherds in the Holy Land, they have a unique way of shepherding their flocks. They don't use dogs or a bunch of shepherds to round up the sheep and drive the sheep into a direction; rather what the shepherd does, the shepherd walks out in front and calls the sheep. The sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd and they come running. They follow the shepherd who walks ahead of them and the sheep trust their shepherd because he's always with them, that he protects them, nurtures them, leads them to green pastures. The shepherd for his sheep is called to be courageous, selfless, and shows affection toward his flock. That was clear from our, from our passage, we just heard from Saint John that Jesus is the good shepherd. Jesus identifies himself as the shepherd and he calls us to follow where he was going and where's he going? He's going to the father and he wants to take us with him.
02:32 We were the sheep that had been scattered by sin and death, wandering in a trackless desert, dying of thirst, attacked by wild animals. He comes along to call us home to live with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit. He calls out to us and if we can recognize his voice, we can follow and even run towards him.
02:59 This is the way to eternal life is to heed the voice of the shepherd. The goal then is to be part of that scene. We just heard from the book of Revelation with the countless hosts of holy men and women. And only to the degree that we allow ourselves to be shepherded by Christ that eternal life becomes ours. For the one who loves his own natural life will perish.
03:28 So can we hear Jesus calling to us and are we willing to be guided by him to heed his voice and to come running when we hear it? And if Jesus is our shepherd, we are secure even amid the trials of this earthly pilgrimage, because we are in the safe, safe hands of the Father.
03:51 The first reading shows us that one is not automatically saved. One has to accept the word of Christ as preached by the Apostles and the Church. This is how Jesus guides us even down to the present day. He promised that he would be with us always. And how does he do that? Through the office of Shepherd that he established in his church, through his apostles and their successors.
04:21 You may remember how Vatican two states that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Well, if we think about it without the apostles and their successors, without the priests, there is no Eucharist. And if there is no Eucharist, there is no Church. And so that as a reasoning goes, if there's no priests, there's no church.
04:42 So we need priests, we need the good shepherds, and Jesus continues to be the good shepherd through his chosen apostles and those who would succeed him. Because Jesus was visible in his life on earth, he continues to be visible in the world through his visible church. So his shepherds are visible men. As he told Peter last week, if you love me, feed my lambs, tend my sheep and the ones who continue the work of the apostles today or the bishops, those united around the successor of St Peter and the priests who helped the bishops. So the priest is to imitate the good shepherd - that he is with the sheep. He protects them and nurtures them, leads them to green pastures in the spiritual life. He must be courageous, selfless, show affection for his sheep. He speaks the good shepherd's truth, and like the good shepherd he's called, called to lay down his life for the sheep.
05:54 In order for the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd to be heard, we need bishops and priests to make his voice heard. Now you may have, you may have heard that on June 15th, Archbishop Sample will ordain two men as priests to help them shepherd the flock here in Archdiocese of Portland, Deacon Stephen Cieslak and Deacon Stephen Kenyon.
06:21 Deacon Stephen Cieslak is from St. Rose of Lima parish in northeast Portland. His father's a doctor and works for the Center for Disease Control here in Portland. Uh, Deacon Stephen Cieslak went to de la Salle north Catholic high school and then attended Boise State University on a ROTC scholarship. And two years into those studies he heard the voice of the shepard calling him to be a priest and he left that to enter the seminary.
06:52 Deacon Kenyon is the son of Pentecostal missionaries who is actually, he was actually born in Taiwan on mission and he, uh, he attended George Fox University in Newburg preparing to become a math teacher. And during this time he heard Jesus has called to become a priest even before he was Catholic. And he entered the RCIA at St Matthew's parish and Hillsboro and became a Catholic in 2011 and waited the mandatory two years that's required by the church and then entered the seminary and has been involved at Saint Peter's parish and Newburg.
07:32 These men were listening to the voice of the good shepherd and willingly willing to be guided by him, answered the call to follow him by having a share in, in the, in the Ministry of the Good Shepherd.
07:46 Now I know in my own life it took some time to hear the voice of Jesus when he called me to be a priest and I truly treasure my call. I love being a priest and wouldn't trade it for any other life. It's a beautiful, challenging and humbling life. And I know the responsibility of sharing in the work of the good shepherd and marvel at the mystery that he uses this sinner and my own hands to change the bread and wine into his body and blood to absolve sins, to use this voice of mine to preach his truth, that he uses this small life to show forth his spiritual fatherhood.
08:34 And I'm keenly aware of the example I give and the words I speak that they must have Jesus in them so that the flock can recognize the voice of the shepherd and follow him to eternal life. And you could read about my vocation story in all its gory details on our website, uh, in an article that was published back in 2009 as it's, it has the title of the old Van Halen Song "ain't talking about love." That's, that was the title of that vocation story.
09:05 But today Jesus still calls men to help him shepherd just like he did with his apostles. He calls men to serve him as his priests. And part of our task as believers is to help our young people say yes to their vocation. To find it and to say yes to it.
09:27 Because it's very difficult in our selfish and impure and greedy culture to hear the gentle voice of Jesus calling to them. So we have to be holier and we have to work harder, and these two priests who will be serving you in this, in the archdiocese, where did they come from? They came from our parishes. They came from a family. Wouldn't it be great if Christ the King got in on that action? Right? Wouldn't it be wonderful if some of our young men responded to Jesus' call to be priests? That means that they will come from your families and part of the task is to help your sons and daughters find their mission in this life. Would you be happy if your son told you that he wanted to be a priest? Do you give your children a good example of the married life? Of that joyful, sacrificial love of fidelity and unity and openness to life. Showing that holy matrimony is the sacred vocation that it is. And if we live our vocations authentically and with joy and other vocations will spring from it.
10:44 Now, there's a very specific thing that we can do. One way to help our young men respond to the call to the priesthood is a four day summer camp called Quo Vadis Days. And way back in the year 2000 myself when I was a brand new priest and another priest, we started this camp to encourage the priesthood among boys ages 13 to 18, basically our high school boys. And the camp is a lot of fun with sports activities, hikes, prayer, adoration, the chance to spend some informal time with priests and seminarians and it's growing. We get about 60 to 80 guys a year on this, on this camp. We have it up at Camp Howard on on Mount Hood and it's been in these 19 years it's been going on in the Archdiocese, it's fostered several vocations for us and now has spread to about 25 other dioceses in the United States and England and Australia.
11:39 But it started here in Portland, and we have the opportunity to do something concrete to help our young men respond to the call of the Good Shepherd. And that's why I'd like to do, I'd like to challenge every young man in our parish if you're, if you're 13 to 18 to join me in going to Quo Vadis Days this year. It's a, it's an awesome time at the end of June. Uh, parents, I would just encourage you, encourage you to encourage your, your, your, your young men to do that. I'll put the information in the bulletin on the website, but there's already a website up. It's called qvdays.org to register. And there's certainly a financial resources for those who need it to come to the camp.
12:24 One concrete way we can, we can do to help raise up more vocations, more priests after the heart of the Good Shepherd in this parish of Christ the King. So let's pray for our bishops and priests, that they may be filled with the love and courage of the good shepherd and pray for more vocations, for vocations from our own families because they are out there and they're here at Christ the king. And I know it. To encourage our young people to say yes to Jesus and his plan for their lives, that the loving voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd may resound and be heard in the world here and now.