I had it all then, a happy family and a good job. Nothing at all excessively as I am just an average man living an ordinary life. Which was why I was surprised by an emptiness that plagued me then. I could not understand it then but something inside me was bugging me, almost begging, questioning me about the meaning of my life. I searched everywhere, venturing into new experiences only to slip into a mild depression as I failed to fill that emotional void.
I stood at the back of the church like I have always been doing for the last 15 years appearing only to fulfil my obligation. I wasn’t interested to volunteer my time to the church. I had moved on from being a deeply religious person as I found my feet in the corporate world. It never even occurred to me to search the church to fill my emptiness.
Then a call to serve in a particular ministry began to echo like a little voice in that emptiness. Over the weeks it recurred more frequently, growing louder each time, same time exerting a pull over me. Unexplainably I went on to answer that call.
Now it is 20 years since. My life has completely transformed. I have found the meaning and purpose of my life in that answer. I did not know it then but now looking back on these last 20 years I know that it was the voice of my shepherd calling out to me. I acknowledge now that I was a lost sheep then. I didn’t even know and it was perhaps the grace of my spiritual instinct that made me follow that voice.
“Jesus said, ‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me’” (Today’s Gospel)
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also Vocation Sunday. Today is a call to each of us to ministry and Christian service. It is a day to search through the din of our life and listen to that inner voice. It might just change your life as it did mine. Because following this voice will lead us to the meaning and purpose of our life.
Our lives are interlinked. We are of the one same flock. We cannot escape the consequences of each other actions or inaction. When we act only for our own self the other will inevitably get hurt. When others do only for themselves we get hurt. The Good Shepherd knows the path out of these complexities of our human life. He tells all sheep the code to stay on this path, “Love one another”. Just imagine. If we listen and fulfil that voice would not our lives be filled with lasting happiness and joy?
The Good Shepherd knows the rich pasture. Grazing in it feed us with meaning in life. He calls us into a vocation; the purpose of life is to pass on the unconditional love he has for us to each other. When we do good to someone do we not feel an inner glow of fulfilment? That is being human too. This fulfilment is where our human and spiritual lives are in union, where the stray sheep meets the good shepherd.
Listen to that voice. It is not about Himself. He cares unconditionally for each of us. He will lead us out of our emptiness to find meaning and fulfilment in our life. “Follow me”.
4th Sunday in Easter: Good Shepherd or Vocation Sunday