Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year B 50th Anniversary of the St. Matthew CWL Council

21 April 2024

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year B

Fiftieth Anniversary of the St Matthew CWL Council


[Acts 4:7-12; Psalm 118; 1John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18]

I am grateful to the St. Matthew CWL council for their kind invitation to join them in the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of their charter. I have long admired and appreciated the work of the CWL, and their commitment to serve God and Canada, so it is for me a joy and blessing to be with you.

This mass coincides with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Otherwise referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday, this annual event is a reminder to us all of the need to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, and to reflect upon the summons of the Lord to each of us, particularly God’s universal call to holiness. Today, the CWL are showing us how we can do this.

Every year, the CWL chooses a national theme to shape and unite their work across the country. For 2024, their theme is decidedly vocational in nature: “Here I am, Lord; send me”, borrowed from the prophet Isaiah. Let’s embrace this theme together, and consider how it invites us into the message of Sacred Scripture for this mass.

“Here I am, Lord; send me.” The readiness to be sent presupposes the willingness to listen. In order to know how the Lord is sending me, I need first to listen to his voice. Notice in the Gospel text from Saint John how Jesus describes the disciple. Speaking of himself as the good shepherd and of us as the sheep, he says, “they will listen to my voice.” The disciple, the follower of Jesus Christ, is one who first listens, and then does whatever one hears the Lord command must be done.

Some very important questions immediately rise to the surface: Am I able to recognize the voice of Jesus when he speaks? When I do, am I willing to do what Jesus asks of me, to go where he sends me? The urgency of confronting these questions is dramatically underscored by current circumstances, which demonstrate the harm that arises when God’s Word is unrecognized and unheeded.

Globally, we are witnessing numberless refugees fleeing persecution, unresolved and worsening conflict in the Middle East, war in Ukraine and South Sudan, and widespread societal unrest. Closer to home, we continue to live with affronts to the dignity of innocent human life, a growing drug crisis, particularly among the young, situations of dire poverty and homelessness, family dysfunction, and so on. At the root of it all is the failure, at times even the refusal, to listen to and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.

The situation is further aggravated by the culture in which we live. Even when we are prepared to listen to Jesus, our culture of babble and noise makes it very difficult to do so.  We are familiar with the modern technological marvel called voice recognition technology. Whether it is a smartphone, or a special device for the house, or the GPS in the car, one can now simply speak to these things and they respond with the answers sought or actions requested. But in order for me to use this technology properly, my voice needs to be clearly heard. If my voice is garbled or there is background noise, I might very well get from the device answers to questions I am not asking. God’s voice, speaking to us in Jesus Christ and reverberating in his Church, is crystal clear. Yet the loud static and background noise created by the multiplicity of voices, opinions, and messages bombarding us daily render it very difficult to recognize and listen to the voice of our Lord. We can end up shaping answers to questions God is not asking and thus following our own will instead of our Lord’s.

“Here I am, Lord; send me.” This is the foundational attitude of the authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. It demands of us a determination to close out from our minds and hearts all noise we know is contrary to the Gospel and seek God’s grace to help us truly recognize the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, speaking to us in Scripture and the Church and echoing within our conscience. In this regard, the CWL again comes to our help by pointing us to the one who can assist us, to the perfect disciple, Mary, the Mother of our Lord.

The CWL honours the Blessed Mother under the title “Our Lady of Good Counsel.” The “counsel” Mary gives to us all was first expressed at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.” In other words, listen carefully to what Jesus says, and then do whatever he commands you to do. Of course, Mary not only gives this counsel but also exemplifies how it is to be practiced. Throughout her life, she thought deeply about all the words she heard pertaining to her son, above all those spoken by the angel Gabriel. She gave herself over completely to the task of listening to God’s Word, spoken about Jesus and in Jesus, in order to be completely obedient to it.

So, today, let’s thank the members of the CWL for providing us with a theme we can all follow as we ponder our particular vocations from the Lord, and for pointing us to Mary as the perfect example to follow. Allow me to suggest that we can also ponder to our great benefit the example given by the CWL itself. Its members serve the Church with wonderful dedication and clear commitment. We know from their varied ministry that they love the Lord and the Blessed Mother, and find real joy in serving the Church. As we all congratulate them on the milestone they have reached as a parochial council, let’s also learn from them the unsurpassed importance of seeking to recognize and follow the voice of Jesus and then doing whatever he tells us to do, because only he, the Good Shepherd, can lead us to the pasture of eternal life.

Most Reverend Richard W. Smith

Saint Matthew Parish

April 21st, 2024