Service for free | Inquirer Opinion
Close  
Moments

Service for free

The story is told about an excited tourist who saw a camel for the first time. His excitement doubled when the man tending the camel said, “Camel ride free.” And up he went with glee. After a while, he wanted to alight from the camel, whereupon the man said, “If you want to go down, there is a $5 fee.”

* * *

ADVERTISEMENT

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. In today’s gospel (Jn. 10, 11-18), Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, describing a good shepherd as one who is willing to give to his sheep his service, and his very life, for free. A hired man, on the other hand, is one who gives service not for free, but for a fee. He has no real concern for the sheep because his real and only concern is the money. Urgently needed in our country especially these days: good shepherds who serve with concern, and for free.

* * *

FEATURED STORIES
OPINION

One other characteristic of a good shepherd is that of the sheep knowing him or her, and he or she being known by the sheep. This implies closeness and intimacy between the shepherd and the sheep. In other words, the good shepherd must be in touch with the sheep, someone who is online and on call 24/7. Pope Francis admonishes priest-shepherds in particular to be generous with their time, and who do not mind “smelling” like their sheep.

* * *

Are our institutions “sheep”-friendly? Pope Francis challenges us to make sure that our structures, organizations and institutions are open and are within the reach not only by the rich, but especially by the poor, the outcasts and the marginalized. Are our institutions like caves where people are welcome and where people can seek refuge, or have they become walls that shut out and drive away people?

* * *

A prayerful person, one who really listens to the Good Shepherd, cannot help but really become humble, compassionate and kind toward others. If we really listen long and hard enough to the Lord in prayer, we will end up not being bossy, proud, mean and uncaring persons. If our so-called “spirituality” has not made us kinder persons, then our spirituality is all a make-believe, an illusion, a decoration. Earnest and constant listening to God’s word should lead us to obey Him and follow His will, not our worldly and selfish agenda. Again, humility is the key for us to become good shepherds, and it all starts with the realization that we are sinners, and that without Him, we are nothing, and can do nothing.

* * *

Work, functions, positions, talents and achievements are parts of our ministry as shepherds, but they are incidental, and often, just accidental. The main focus should be a real relationship with the Good Shepherd if we are to become good shepherds as well. Those who claim to “serve” the Lord, but hardly pray and listen to the Lord, often end up serving, and helping, themselves!

ADVERTISEMENT

* * *

Today is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. First of all, let us pray for the grace to realize that all of us have a calling, a mission, a vocation in life. It is sad that many people look at life today from the point of view of self-satisfaction, self-improvement, self-fulfillment. It is a selfie generation that is rising, and often, God is not in the picture at all. Please remember that we all are called to become good, and to become better persons, and called to God Himself. He constantly calls us. Are we listening?

* * *

Let us pray that the youth will respond to a special calling, that of priestly and religious life. Yes, let us continue to pray and work for the grace of generosity, especially for the young to walk the “road less traveled” in order to serve others.

* * *

The Association of Medical and Social Workers of the Philippines had their convention in Iloilo City last April 22-24. We acknowledge their invaluable and often unnoticed contribution to our people. They are good shepherds, who go out of their way to serve especially the lost, the least and the last in our midst.

* * *

A centenarian good shepherd! That’s Victoria “Nena” Singson Tenchavez who celebrated her 100th birthday last April 23. She brought up three children, from whom have come 17 grandchildren, and 16 (soon to be 18) great-grandchildren, and they are all good. Lola Nena at 100 is still good—good eyesight, good hearing, good appetite and good humor! Bob, her youngest son, attributes all these to his mother’s disciplined, prayerful and charitable life all these years.

* * *

I recently met musicians Rico and Franco Aquino, a father and son tandem, who make good music together. I was inspired not only by their good music and songs, but by their being together and working together every day—good shepherd and sheep! (You may contact them at 0917-3007426).

* * *

Some thoughts on the Good Shepherd: “He does not call the qualified but qualifies those He calls; We do not change His message but His message changes us; Our way leads to a hopeless end, but His way leads to an endless hope; when God ordains, He sustains; when He guides, He provides; what He promises He fulfills.”

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind us that true service is for free, and not for a fee. Amen.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: 11-18, God, Good Shepherd Sunday, Gospel, Jesus, Jn. 10, Moments, Pope Francis
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.