The Fourth Sunday of Easter we traditionally celebrate as Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocations Sunday. This is because in the Gospel of the day (from St. John’s Gospel), Jesus speaks of himself as the Shepherd who is prepared to lay down his life for his sheep.  This year it will be observed on Sunday, April 30, 2023.

Catholics in the Roman Rite celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday during Eastertide. Similar to “Divine Mercy Sunday,” it is fixed on a particular Sunday during the Easter season. Prior to Vatican II this day was celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of Easter, but since then it is always on the 4th Sunday of Easter.

Jesus the Good Shepherd
(Photo : Bernhard Plockhorst, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons ) 

World Day of Prayer for Vocations : 

The Fourth Sunday of Easter also marks the 60th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Parishes are especially encouraged to include prayers for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the general intercessions on that day and the homily may focus on vocations.

This particular Sunday has always coincided with the following passage from the Gospel according to St. John:
"I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" - John 10:11.
The exact verses change each year, but they all revolve around Jesus calling himself the “Good Shepherd.”

It is a day to focus on Jesus’ role as shepherd of souls and our role of following his voice wherever he goes.

Celebration of Vocations Sunday :

When a man becomes a priest, he sacrifices his own will and chooses instead to follow Jesus and he aspires to become as Christ to others.  In doing so, he answers Christ’s call to serve the Church and its people.

In the Gospel of that Sunday , it's highlighted that the Good Shepherd - Jesus- knows his sheep, and they know him, recognising his voice which is unique.  He affirms our belonging to the family of God: like the sheep, once we are part of his fold, we cannot be lost or stolen, since no-one can cheat God, and Jesus is one with God.

Evangelisation is at the core of the Church’s mission, so that we may all be ‘one flock’ with ‘one Shepherd’.  As disciples of Jesus, we are all able to give witness to the generous love of our Father in heaven. This love is given willingly through the sacrifice of his Son, which is perpetuated in the ministry of our bishops and priests, and which we remember at each Mass.

In many dioceses, Good Shepherd Sunday is an opportunity to pray for vocations, to encourage those who might be considering ordained or religious life, and for each of us to ask ourselves whether the Lord might be calling us to do some definite service for him.

- Article by CT Staff

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