Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4: 8-12
I John 3:1-2
John 10: 11-18
I know what some of you do for work but not all of you. Is there anyone who is a shepherd? We do not have shepherds in our area, but in Israel they do. It is the Fourth Sunday of the Easter season, but it is also Good Shepherd Sunday.
In our gospel, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” We are reminded what he does as the Good Shepherd, as he says five times, “I lay down my life for my sheep.” We are to know that God is our Good Shepherd and there is nothing we shall want because God has already given us what we need.
I am called to be a shepherd to all of you. I hope you know how much I love you and care for you? I hope you rejoice in the things that I do well? I hope you are patient with me in the things that challenge me? And I hope that you can forgive me for the things that I cannot do?
On my desk, is a statue of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It is the earliest depiction of Jesus Christ, and he is standing with a sheep on his shoulders. I am reminded, that I must lay my life down for you as I look at that statue.
Pope Francis, in his Holy Thursday Chrism Mass said, “As priests, we are to know the smell of our sheep. We are to wear the smell of our sheep.” Which means to me to rejoice when you rejoice and to be sad when you are sad. This means being there through all the things of your life. It means being there, even when the diaper needs to be changed! Now that can be some nasty smell! But it is about getting my hands dirty to be with you.
I hear these readings, and I am challenged to be a better priest and pastor, but all of us are challenged today to be good shepherds! We are all shepherds, because someone has been given to us to be in our care? How do we care for the ones who have been given to us to care for as a good shepherd? I want to begin with all married persons. How is your love for each other this day? Some days it is more than love, it is sustainability! When was the last time you went on a date with each other? Who is willing to be brave and strong and break the bond of negativity that can plague a marriage? Who is the one that is willing to reach across and take hold of the hand of the other and be one? Your kids, your grandchildren are the ones who look to you to figure out what it means to be in love and to be good shepherds.
You who are siblings, and I am not talking just too young kids. I am reaching out to anyone who has a sibling. How have you been a good shepherd to your siblings? Is there one of them that needs you today? Is there one we do not get along with today? Sometimes as siblings, the best thing to know is that they always will be standing next to us! Lastly, to all the single people and again, we can be of any age. In some ways we have it a bit easier. We do not have all those immediate responsibilities. To be a good shepherd is to not be self-centered. It is to be a good friend to those whom God has given to us for our care!
My friends in Christ to be a good shepherd takes courage. Let us always hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, leading us to holiness and faithfulness! May we also be good shepherds to those God has entrusted to us!