We celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations today. We pray specifically for holy and wise priests. We do not only pray for priests but must be specific. We only want holy and wise priests. We also pray for holy and wise married couples and consecrated women and men. The Readings today show us what good priests look like. Jesus tells us twice, he is the Good Shepherd.
- I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
- I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. And I lay down my life for the sheep.
The ideal pastor is one who is willing to protect his sheep. According to Jesus, the hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. As if to stress a point, Jesus talks of laying down his life for the sheep. The Good Shepherd is the model of fatherhood. A father is one that gives up his life for his children. He guides his children to the Lord. The father is not concerned about his well being, but is concerned about his wife’s and children’s well being, such that he is willing to lay down his life for them.
How can a father have this willingness to die for his family? But being rooted in Jesus. Peter and John shows us in the First Reading that they were willing to put their lives in danger, to speak the truth about Jesus Christ when they said let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The model for fatherhood is God the Father himself as shown by Jesus Christ and holy and wise priests who courageously proclaim him.
The role of a father is not to help his children succeed in life. The role of the father is to lead his children to Jesus. It is to help them achieve what the Second Reading says: to be like God, so they can see him as he is. Fathers have that responsibility to lead their families to holiness, to lead them to God and mirror the Father of Jesus Christ to his family.
God has ordained fathers to be the priests in their family, to lead them in prayer, to teach them not only about God, but to help his family know God through Jesus Christ. Society has emasculated men such that men today do not have the model of what a father should be. Fathers, we need to learn about our faith so we can protect and lead our family to knowing God through Jesus Christ. If we have done this, then we would have completed our vocation.
Lord, give us holy and wise fathers, men who are willing to give up their lives for their families, men who speak the truth and who are willing to die for you, so that their families may live.