Today’s mass offered a good reminder of the connection between our occupations and our identities. Christ identified himself as a shepherd who is so good at his job that he knows each sheep in his flock and they know him. Jesus warns against the hired-hand mentality where the motivation is money and the slightest challenge instills the “take this job and shove it” attitude.

What I got out of today’s gospel reading was, although we all have to earn a living, we also earn our identitiy through that living. This should remind us that there is great honor in an occupation, whether it’s a paying job or a vocation like parenthood or priesthood. We are called togive glory to God by doing that work to the best of our ability and to set a good example for others in how we earn our living. That means not only earning a paycheck, but earning the life God gave us.

How well we do that determines our reputation and thus our identity as a child of God. Others will come to know God through that identity and aspire to earn their reputations the same way. That is one of the most effective ways to spread the word of God, not by words, but by how we live and how we make our living.

Today we make our living by being God’s children. If we excel, eventually we’ll get a promotion. It says so in today’s second reading from John:

“We are already God’s children, but what we shall be in the future has not yet been revealed. We are well aware that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is.”