A Shepherd’s Heart
Growing up in Tisa, I entered the Aspirantate of Don Bosco Missionary Seminary after Grade Six. Summer was one of the most exciting times of the year because we were home for vacation. We were encouraged to give a hand in the parish where we belonged. Being a parishioner of Lourdes Parish, then, I volunteered to be a catechist and youth leader. It was there that I met one of the most inspiring persons in my life: Bro. Elmer Rodriguez, SDB. After the daily 6:30 AM Mass, I could hear the familiar voice of Bro. Elmer gathering us, aspirants, around him to share stories and laughter. He was also home for his vacation. Bro. Elmer was a Salesian Brother with a big and kindly heart.
Bro. Elmer was a natural leader. But he was not a good communicator. In fact, he would stutter when he speaks. Yet he had a commanding presence with his friendly and cheerful style that was attractive. He was also a story-teller and his stories were borne from his own life experiences. His insights were enough learning for the day. Most of all, one can discern that he had a compassionate heart for the poor and those less in life. Shy with big crowds, he was not particularly talented. But we loved him in his simplicity and warmth.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also World Day Prayer for Vocations. Today we pray for vocations to the priestly and religious life. What attracts young people to this vocation are the priests and religious themselves. No doubt, God continues to call today’s youth to this particular way of life. Perhaps their witnessing is not clear enough. Moreover, the role of shepherding may also be extended to those who care for others: parents, teachers, doctors, nurses and public officials. Shepherds are those who lead, nourish, nurture, comfort, care, guide and protect those entrusted to them.
Today’s gospel offers a great challenge in shepherding. Introducing himself as the Good Shepherd of the flock, Jesus makes three claims. First, he knows his sheep and they listen to his voice. Second, he gives eternal life to them. Finally, he protects them by entrusting them to the Father. Hence, real shepherding demands total dedication and selfless consecration to the point of giving up one’s life for the sheep. May God continue to give us shepherds with a Christ-like heart.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to have the heart of a Good Shepherd like the heart of Christ. Amen.
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