Jesus is the Good Shepherd

Homily for 4th Sunday of Easter
April 21-22, 2018
Sacred Heart, EGF: 5:00 PM
Holy Trinity, Tabor: 8:00 AM; St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher: 10:00 AM

Focus:              Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Function:        Let him shepherd you.


Fr. Peter the Good Shepherd

Some friends at Mom and Dad’s farm on the weekend of my diaconate ordination in 2016.  Fr. Peter is a veteran priest, 3 of us are rookie priests, and 1 will be ordained this summer.

Thank God that Jesus is a Good Shepherd, because I know how much I am prone to wander…

 

As the Good Shepherd, Jesus leads me to green pastures, he shows me where to drink from the waters of salvation, he feeds me with the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation…

And as the sheep, I walk away, focused more on myself than on him. I choose to wallow in the muck of my sins, I wander away, off on my own path, rather than walking in the way he has pointed out to me.

And when I do that, when I sin, he calls me back. He never abandons me.  He comes looking for me.  He beckons.  He calls out to me.  He invites me to “turn around” and to repent, to call out to him even as he calls out to me so that he can find me, pick me up, put me on his shoulders, and bring me back.  He reminds me that I can’t do it without him, that I am dependent on him, that I need him.  But he also reminds me that that’s OK, because he is there for me.  He is my Shepherd.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I am the sheep.  To be a good disciple is to be a good sheep – a sheep who gets distracted and wander from time to time, certainly; but also a sheep who knows the One to whom he belongs.  I am to be a sheep who knows the heart of His Shepherd.

The heart of my Shepherd is a heart of love, a heart that listens, a heart that calls me, that protects me, that leads me, that feeds me. The heart of my Shepherd knows the heart of his sheep.  The heart of my Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

And, brothers and sisters, he invites us to do the same.

The Good Shepherd first invites us to follow him as his sheep, then as we mature he invites us to become shepherds for others.

He calls us to do this as husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers, who introduce their children to the Good Shepherd.

He calls us to do this as priests who stand in the person of Christ, who make Christ present in a parish through the celebration of the sacraments and in the preaching of His Word…

He calls us to do this as monks and nuns, as brothers and sisters, who by the radical yet joyful laying down of their lives give us an example of faith and sacrifice to imitate as they devote their lives to leading others to the Good Shepherd.

Today is World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

Today, the Church asks us to pray particularly for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Pope Francis has asked every Christian in the world to spend some time today praying for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.

The Good Shepherd speaks into the hearts of the children and young adults in our midst. Today is a day to remember that as they grow and mature, their vocation will be revealed to them, if they learn to listen for it, if we pray for them, and if we promote an environment where that vocation is encouraged to grow and flourish, an environment where it will not suffocate from fear or lack of encouragement.

Our diocese needs priests. When was the last time you told a young man that you think he’d be a good priest and why?  Our future shepherds are among us.  Christ does not leave his Church without shepherds.  They just need us to shepherd them as they grow and discover this call.

We can shepherd others only if we ourselves know and strive to follow the Good Shepherd. If we don’t know the voice of the Good Shepherd in our own lives, if we don’t try to listen and to follow the voice of the Good Shepherd in our own lives, then we become a hireling and not a shepherd.

St. Gregory the Great said this:
Whether a man be a shepherd or a hireling, cannot be told for certain, except in a time of trial. In tranquil times, the hireling generally stands watch like the shepherd.  But when the wolf comes, then everyone shows with what spirit he stood watch over the flock.

The shepherd is the one who has learned to lay down his life for the sheep…

The shepherd is the one who loves with a sacrificial type of love…

Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd precisely because he is also the Lamb of God, the Lamb of God who offered himself upon the altar of the Cross in order to take away the sins of the world.

Blessed indeed are we who are called to the supper of the Lamb.

 

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