On this Vocation Sunday, we are given the opportunity to meet these people who are the foundations of the Lord's Church, the universal Church and our parish. First of all, we are invited to listen to Jesus, to look at his disciples Paul and Barnabas who followed the Lord. They ask us to listen to the words of the first reading, in the face of jealousy and thwarted behaviour, "hold on to the grace of God", for we have received a life-giving Word, and through that Word God gives us life. Do not waste the grace you received at your baptism.
Through the baptism that we have received, we become the people of God, bearing the name of Christ, the holy NAME that God chose for his only Son. Of course we are different and this difference is our richness. The Church of the Lord does not seek uniformity, uniformity of thought and action, but works in this diversity towards unity as one people, a people who listen to the Lord, who love their God and work with him.
For those of you who were present yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, on the synodality, it is clear that certain words were repeated: listening, dialogue and encounter. "My sheep listen to my voice and I know them," says the Lord. To listen to the Lord, one must know him; to know him, one must love him, St Augustine tells us. To love him, we must do his will. And how to do his will is simply to learn to live a life of peace and reconciliation. Are my words and actions inspired by God's love, or by my personal interest or taste? Jesus taught us in the garden of Gethsemane: "Not my will but yours be done". The Father entrusted him with his sheep and Jesus did not want to lose them.
My sheep listen to me and I know them. This listening and knowing are closely linked to love, the knowledge of which is not simply intellectual knowledge, but more deeply a loving knowledge. God so loved the world that he gave his Son, not to judge it, but that through him the world might be saved. On Maundy Thursday we heard: "He wanted to love them to the end. In this love, he wanted all his sheep to be united to him, as he is united to his Father. "The Father and I are ONE.
In this attentive listening, there is an openness to the adventure that God offers us, where we share, where we exchange, where the sheep follow the Lord. The path of life continually teaches us the need to welcome the new that challenges us, and from time to time upsets us. As a religious priest, I am aware of this work that God has done through my priestly ministry. I am aware that I am your shepherd, who needs your listening, your support and your prayer, so that God can accomplish his will, a will that fills us with his immense and inexhaustible love. Paradoxically, the shepherd needs his sheep and the sheep need their shepherd. Let us pray for the priests, the holy priests, who listen to and know his sheep, in the image of Christ, our Shepherd. May they themselves be faithful sheep, who follow the Lord, the eternal Shepherd, Amen.