A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – CYCLE “C” – APRIL 17TH, 2016 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
I have this cousin, named Brian, who is really into baseball. He played the game as a boy. He always talking about it, reading about, or watching it on TV. And Brian’s favorite major-league baseball team, like a lot of other people in this area, are the Cincinnati Reds. Brian has got all the baseball hats. When we were kids I didn’t think that Brian owned any shirts that didn’t say Cincinnati Reds on them. Today, Brian even drives a red car. And if you ask Brian about his love of the Cincinnati Reds, he just says, that he “follows” the Cincinnati Reds. I’ve always thought that this was such an odd way of saying that he liked them. I have always pictured the Cincinnati Reds Team Bus driving down the highway, and my cousin, Brian, “following” them, right on the back bumper of the bus in his red car. Of course, that’s not what Brian means, when he says that he “follows” them. He follows them on the news, and in the newspaper, and on TV. He follows their schedule, so he always knows where they are playing. He follows their trades, and who they sign, and who’s on the Team at any given time. But my cousin is not a stalker. He’s just a big Reds fan, who has a funny way of putting it.
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, what’s sometimes referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, today we are reminded by the Church that we “follow” Jesus Christ, and that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Oh, we might like the Reds, or the Cubs, or the Cardinals. We might like to listen to the music of the Beatles, or U2, or Carrie Underwood, or Panic at the Disco. We might be interested in Ted Cruz, or John Kasich, Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as a candidate for the presidency of the United States. But we don’t really “follow” any of these people or these groups. To follow someone or something in the manner that we are being called to follow Jesus, is to grant them an authority, an influence, a power over our lives. We may be interested in a great number of different people over the years of our lives. But most of the time, we are pretty guarded over who we give that kind of influence and authority to, over us.
Today, what the Gospel wants to assure us all of, is that Jesus is worthy of that trust. He is the only One worthy of that kind of trust. He is the Good Shepherd Who will NOT mislead us. The Good Shepherd has one job and one job only, and that is of getting, of leading, all of us home to Heaven. We can trust Him. And that’s important for us to know, because we live in a world today where we can’t trust so many people, so many shepherds. So many of our leaders have disillusioned us and let us down. We know that in government, in sports, in music, sometimes even in religion, people, leaders, let us down and will even try to mislead us. Not this Jesus! This is why today we stick with Him! We keep our eyes and our hearts set on Him at all times! We rely on Him. We follow Him today and always!
St. Peter was so right in John’s Gospel, chapter 6, when he said, “Where, Lord, would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life? We want what’s real, what lasts forever, what’s true! Then we have to follow the Good Shepherd! Then, Jesus needs to be the center of our lives! And if we are going to follow the Good Shepherd, then we must become trustworthy also! There is no greater witness to Jesus Christ then to become trustworthy like Him! Our world has so many fake heroes! You know, Batman, Captain America, and Iron Man are fun to watch in the movies, but they are not real. They came from comic books! Today the world needs real heroes, men and women, who like Christ the Good Shepherd, are trustworthy and dependable. Today we need men and women who will lead others to goodness, to holiness, and to what is right. May our following of the Good Shepherd, help each one of us to meet that need and challenge, and to stay on track.
Two-thousand years ago, Jesus message and His leadership stood out, as different, as real. People knew that He wasn’t just saying nice words, but that He was teaching in a completely new authority of what was real and what would last. Today, we as Church must continue that same authentic teaching authority with our lives! The Good Shepherd lives on. He is not dead. But He is very much alive! May the resurrection of our Lord inspire all of us to follow Him more closely, and to lead others to Heaven, as He has led us! Alleluia! Alleluia!