Fourth Sunday of Easter :The Good Shepherd and Me the Sheep

All the readings for this Sunday's Mass are here.

This Sunday is traditionally “Good Shepherd Sunday,” and is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

So many questions stem from these readings.

What’s the connection between the “Lamb of God” and the “Good Shepherd”? 

When (and why) do we feel like a sheep? 
When (and why) do we feel like a shepherd? 
The good shepherd in the Middle East goes in front of the sheep and they follow because they trust him.
No force, no fierce dogs nipping at their heels; only a well-known voice urging them on to the safety of the fold.

This is a good homily that deals with the over-sentimentalised image of God's people being seen as just passive sheep.

Jesus as the Good Shepherd is one of the favourite images in art through the centuries.

Christ was often depicted as a shepherd in Christian art of the 3rd century. There are over 100 Good Shepherd images in the underground Christian burial grounds of ancient Rome and in Chinese art Christ the shepherd features too.

This is a great link with fantastic visual imagery of Christ the Good Shepherd

So often we behave like silly sheep, but we have a shepherd we can trust, who will pick us up when we fall and carry us home. 

What does the word “vocation” mean to us? How does it refer to our present situation, right here and now?

What does it mean for our future? 

What does the ministry of priests mean to us?

What is the role of vowed religious women and men in the Church?

What about the vocation of marriage or the single life in the Church?

 Some Key phrases from today's readings below...

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. . . .

All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue. 
. . . The Lamb who is in the centre of throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.


This image of Pope Pius XII may be far from the image some of us have of the way the hierarchical church has shepherded us recently.

Yet it is Christ's endless desire for every one of us to come home to our community and not to be lost in the dark. 

There are not many of us who can truly understand the love of Christ, and those who often say they do are far from the truth, because the love of Christ often makes no human sense to us.

Think about it. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy" Luke 15:4-5 

No one in their right mind would leave ninety-nine sheep for one. That Shepherd would be unemployed the next week. 

But in the eyes of Christ, no one in their right mind would not leave the ninety-nine.
It's out of perfect love Christ comes after us. This is the kind of love of someone  willing to sacrifice His life for us. 

All for a bunch of sinners. I wish I could say I understand this kind of love, but if I did I'd be lying. 

And yes, despite all my education and knowledge in this 21st Century, that's why I can still call myself a sheep, and I have come to realise that at the end of the day, I don't have to understand it.

I have a shepherd I can trust, who will pick me up when I fall and carry me home. 
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Tim said...

Phil, this is just superb. "In the eyes of Christ, no one in their right mind would not leave the ninety-nine." This speaks to me on so many levels, there's not enough space or time to lay them out.

On a very personal level, though, it's comforting to know when I my way, my Shepherd will search for me. "My sheep know My voice," He said. When we stray, there's no need to bleat and cry. We need only still ourselves so we can listen.

Thank you for this most inspiring post!


Philomena Ewing said...

Hi Tim,
It is great to have you here and I am thrilled with your comments.

I like your idea of stilling ourselves and listening rather than bleating.
If only I could do this I might make more progress !!

Lisa said...

Thanks for this post. I am thinking of the following. This is a free choice. Walking and following. Following and walking. Following to new places, new watering holes, new ground. Lovely.

claire said...

Yes, Phil, you're right. It is crazy to leave the other 99 sheep. Yes, indeed. this is why it is a parable: it turns our life vision upside down.

As Tim said though, it is nice to know that Jesus will leave all the nice sheep to come and fetch the wandering one.

Blessings for all that you bring here, Phil.

Happy Sunday!