A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (GOOD SHEPHERD) – 5/11/14 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you this day!
Today, Jesus talks to us about Him being the Good Shepherd. This is Good Shepherd Sunday, and it is an important part of our Easter season. Today we are reminded Who our real Leader is supposed to be, and exactly where this Good Shepherd is leading us, namely home to Heaven.
These are tough days for all shepherds. There’s not nearly the demand for shepherds in 2014. I checked the want ads in today’s paper and there’s no one seeking to hire shepherds this week. A hundred and fifty years ago though, and for centuries before that, shepherds were in high demand. This was back in the day when every family had sheep for their wool and for their meat. Most of us don’t make our own clothes any more and certainly not with home-spun wool, and I would venture to guess that there are many of us here today who have never lamb for dinner. Things have changed a lot. The demand for both sheep and shepherds isn’t what it used to be! It never was a very glamorous job. In fact, for many centuries, it was the first job for the boys in the family. My great-grandfather used to tell stories of being a shepherd boy in the mountains of southern Italy. It was a sign of great responsibility! When a boy was old enough, and by old enough, I am talking five, six, or even seven years old, his father would take him out and show him how to lead and protect the sheep. Many times, they were even given a weapon to protect the sheep from wolves and other predators. Can you imagine a five-year-old boy alone, taking care of dozens of sheep, and with a loaded gun for protection? It was a different time. In actuality it was a pretty boring life. The shepherd boys would count sheep, round them up, and keep them together. It was a pretty solitary experience.
I mention this background today, because I think that it is important for us to understand that just like all professions, there were good and bad shepherds. There were shepherds who really cared about what they were doing, and there were those who were only there because someone was making them be there. A good shepherd cared about the sheep. He knew them. They knew him and knew his voice. The sheep listened to and followed the instructions of a good shepherd because they knew that he was looking out for them. A bad shepherd was just there to get the job done and to meet his responsibility to his family. He didn’t care about the sheep.
Jesus is telling us today, not two-thousand years ago, that He wants to be our Shepherd. He wants to be our Good Shepherd. And, He wants to lead us, and protect us, and get us safely home to His Father’s Kingdom.
Now for that to happen, we’ve got to be willing to listen and to be led. Listening and having a willingness to let someone lead us is not always our strong point. We like, unruly sheep, like to go our own way. In fact, many of us say, we don’t need a shepherd, good or bad, we want to do our own thing, and go our own way. Shepherds just get in the way of that. We like to think and pretend that we are oh so independent and that we can take care of ourselves. And yet, so many times we don’t have any problem following the bad shepherds in our lives. We love to listen to Dr Phil, or Ellen DeGeneres, or Queen Latifah, and we don’t have any problem letting them tell us how to act, or what to think, or what to like! We will oh so easily hand over the reigns of our lives to Wall Street, or Madison Avenue, or Apple or Samsung or Sony, because they make big money, and they would never lead us astray, would they? It is so strange that we want to be independent, we don’t want a good shepherd telling us what to do, but that we have no problem what-so-ever letting so many bad shepherds of this world run our lives! Miley Cyrus is a shepherd to how many of our young girls? Justin Beiber is shepherd to how many of our young guys? And it is not just the young today. How many of us who are a little older, thought that Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe, and Freddie Prinze, and Michael Jackson, and O.J. Simpson, and Anna Nicole Smith, and Whitney Houston, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were all pretty cool also? Do we really want the world’s shepherds as our shepherds? I don’t think so! Jesus is offering us so much more!
We need a Good Shepherd. We need someone to lead closer to God, and not farther away. We need to be good shepherds for one another. We need good bishops and priests today. We also need good
Mothers and good fathers, and good grandparents, and good brothers and sisters, and good bosses, and good employees! We need good neighbors, and good teachers, and good kids! But to keep all of us on track, we need our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ! If He is truly the center of our lives, if we are allowing Him to lead us to where He knows we want to go, then that is when great things are going to happen. There’s nothing wrong with following, most especially when we are following the right Shepherd! Let us be His people, His sheep, and may He be our God!
+ May God bless us on this Good Shepherd Sunday! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!