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Called by God

Today's scripture readings present us with two images of Christ, that of shepherd and that of cornerstone. These images are diverse in a number of ways but they also have much in common. Both emphasise the centrality of Christ for survival.

It is the shepherd who protects the sheep and keeps the flock together. It is the corner­stone that keeps the whole building intact.

Both images contain references to Christ's death for us - the stone is rejected and the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Both speak of victory over death - the good shepherd takes up his life again, and the stone rejected becomes the keystone.

Finally, both images invite us to deep trust in Christ. We are called to listen to his voice as sheep are attuned to the voice of the shepherd. We are called to rest in Christ as the stones of a building rest their weight on the cornerstone.

We must also note that in using the image of the shepherd and the corner-stone Jesus suggested suffering ahead: 'Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.' Our corner­stone is after all 'the stone rejected by the builder' — We died with him in baptism in order to with him in glory. Suffering is part of every Christian vocation.

Too often we tend to limit 'vocation' to a calling to the priesthood or religious life, but in fact, every single one of us has a vocation. We are being called by God to be spouses, parents, teachers, nurses, civil servants, running a business, salespersons... or whatever. God is calling every one of us to work for the Gospel, and to make our own unique contribution based on the particular talents He has given us.

There are many obstacles and dangers in our lives, many things drain and challenge us. There will be sufferings and disappointments but they will have meaning for us, if we centre our life on Christ—making Him the corner­stone on which we build. Our actions of love, kindness and service and self sacrifice are not in vain. God welcomes them and enhances them beyond all our imaging.

Today we are acutely aware of the critical shortage of priests and religious and should seriously heed the call of the Good Shepherd to pray that 'the Lord of the harvest will send labourers into His harvest.'

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, C.M.