Fourth Sunday of Easter – B

26 April 2015

Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič

Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS

For over fifty years, the Church has celebrated this Fourth Sunday of Easter as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today, Catholics throughout the world will be offering their prayers and the sacrifice of the Holy Mass for this special intention of the Church, that God may send new labourers into his vineyard, which is the Church so that the mission of Christ may continue for the well-being and salvation of mankind in the future.

The Church always remains in constant need of new priests and sisters. Yet today, we see that vocations to the priesthood or religious life are not always popular. Many young people, even those who lead good Christian lives do not even consider the possibility of entering the priesthood or religious life. It is a very crucial question to ask, why is this so? What is it that turns young people away from a vocation of Christian service in the Church? There exist many factors, and we can examine a few which will hopefully help us re-examine our own lives and witnessing for Christ.

First of all, we cannot avoid the influences modern society has upon young people. A constant bombardment of information, advertising and lifestyles are presented to us through the media as ways of living or even worse, as the “only” way of living a meaningful life. It is indeed difficult for young people to break away from these influences and attempt to choose something diverse, something more meaningful. Unfortunately many television and radio programs, along with the internet and printed materials, in the majority of cases do not mention spiritual values, but glorify the hedonistic values of material wealth, instant gratification, subjective and relativistic thinking, in a word selfishness. In such an environment it is truly difficult to counter these values with the invisible world of spiritual values.

The value of self-sacrifice for the good of others is truly in peril, since many young people today are not brought up in an environment or in families where self-sacrifice is considered a virtue. Sometimes it is the fault of parents themselves who baby or spoil their children until they become of marrying age, leaving them totally unprepared for their lives when the approach adulthood.

Youth themselves are under tremendous pressures in their lives. Apart from the generation gaps between youth and their parents, there exists a very strong and influential force in peer pressure. Young people want to fit in with the crowd, be accepted by others, especially their peers, and at times if their behaviour does not fit in with the norm, they can be considered outcasts, weirdos, which leave them dejected and alone. There is not much room for individuality in peer pressure groups, therefore only the strongest have enough will-power to overcome the  constraints that these groups impose upon others.

At times uncertainty, worries about the future and the problems that youth encounter can risk paralyzing youthful enthusiasm and shattering their dreams, to the point where they can think that it is not worth the effort to get involved, that the God of the Christian faith is somehow a limit on their freedom.

Every vocation though, is first of all inspired by God. It is God himself who works in the hearts of people to inspire them to great deeds. He is the one who initially invites youth to a new life in friendship with him. It is therefore very true that we have not chosen God but he has chosen us. What is important today then, is to awaken the necessity of vocations to all in the Church, so that we can all join in a common effort to pray that the Lord may call many more to spiritual vocations, and that we ourselves may do our best to encourage them in our communities.

This is where the role of the family is of extreme importance. It is in families that vocations begin and can sprout. This is where we can all participate in helping raise new vocations, by living our Christianity as best as we can in our very families. By providing a good example of the virtues of heaven, we will indeed be helping young people realize the great values of Christian living, which will hopefully awaken within their hearts a desire to know our heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ all the better. By knowing God better, the Holy Spirit will guide the young man or woman to courageously choose, with faith and trust in the Lord, a life of dedicated service in God’s Church.

Follow me were the words of Jesus to his first disciples. The same words are extended today to every Christian and especially to those who wish to serve the Lord in their lives. By following Jesus we mean accepting him as our Saviour, listening to his word, obeying it, and fulfilling it with our lives, accepting the sacrifices and hardships that come along the way with faith and courage, and living in the constant hope of heaven. This is the job of those called to spread the Good News of salvation to all.

May the Lord of the harvest truly inspire us all to follow his Son Jesus in all that we do. May he send labourers out into his vineyard to see to the immediate needs of his Church and may we all partake in the wonderful mystery of sowing the seeds of spiritual vocations in our families and communities.

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