Father Alex McAllister SDS
May 11, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Today we mark the Fourth Sunday of Easter which is more commonly called Good Shepherd Sunday. It is given this name because in each Sunday of the three-year liturgical cycle there is an extract from Chapter Ten of John’s Gospel which is all about the Good Shepherd.
In the first part of that Chapter which we are presented with today Christ solemnly tells his disciples a parable about the role of a Good Shepherd. He then goes on to explain that this is his role and teaches his Apostles about how in fact it is he who is the Good Shepherd and indeed that he is the very gate of the sheepfold.
We see how this role fits in perfectly with the life of Jesus who is the true Shepherd who, as he explains later on in the chapter, is the one who gives his life for his sheep.
On this Sunday we take the Gospel reading as our cue to speak about vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. We do this out of recognition that while we have one true Good Shepherd in Christ we also need other shepherds to lead each of the very many congregations of Christians spread throughout the world.
In recent years we have frequently spoken about the shortage of those coming forward to accept this role. Here at St Joseph’s for the first time in many years we have a living example placed before us. After five years of studies Brother Paul was ordained deacon before Christmas and will be ordained to the priesthood on 28th June.
We assure him of our heartfelt prayers as he steps up and begins his new ministry of service in the Church. We have certainly benefited from his ministry over the last couple of years and hope we will do so in the future but from his ordination day onwards as a priest.
It is now to the next generation that we have to look for future vocations. Most likely it is from among our altar servers that new vocations from within our congregation will come. It is they who are closest to the priest and by serving on the altar they have come to a close appreciation of the Divine Liturgy and understand its importance better than most.
So we remind our young people and especially our altar servers to think about the possibility of studying for the priesthood or embracing the religious life. We assure them that these are deeply fulfilling vocations and that they are essential to the ongoing life of the Church.
Through one or other of these vocations it is possible to be involved with people at some of the most important moments of their lives and to mediate to them the care Christ has for each member of his Church.
Besides giving vitally important pastoral care, they as priests will be very much involved in opening the grace of the sacraments to the people, bringing them in particular the Eucharist and through their preaching opening up the secrets of the scriptures to their listeners.
These are highly significant and valued ministries which while they involve many sacrifices also provide many lasting rewards.
Shepherding is a wonderful metaphor for the ministry of Christ and his pastors in the Church of today. It has many aspects which Christ’s listeners two thousand years ago would have been much more aware of than we can ever be.
We live in the middle of a teeming city while the people to whom Christ was explaining his purposes were mainly peasants; people who had an intimate connection with the land and the animals.
His listeners understood very well the role of a shepherd. They knew that while at times it was a lonely task it also meant a wonderful intimacy with the sheep who in their turn depended entirely on their Good Shepherd. It is a role which requires at some moments great bravery and at other times deep patience. It is a role which involves both regular routines and also the ability to think quickly and to make the right decisions very speedily.
The task of a shepherd is essentially one of caring and protecting the sheep in his charge. It is much the same for a priest in the Church of today. The priest too leads and guides; he shows by his life what being a Christian today involves. It is at some times a lonely task and at other times it involves deep intimacy with the people.
What we discover is that for those with a true vocation it is the most fulfilling thing they could do with their lives. Let us hope and pray that among our congregation and within our families young people see the value of just such a vocation and have the courage to respond to God’s call.
The last sentence in our text today is an important one. Christ says, ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’ It is vital to understand this. What Christ wants is for us to live truly fulfilling lives. He wants us to enjoy ourselves; of course he does not mean this is any merely superficial way for what Christ wants is for us to experience is deep and true fulfilment in life.
Christ wants us to get the very most out of what life has to offer. He wants us to experience all that life can give us; both its highs and its lows, its pains and its pleasures. By means of these experiences he wants us to end up as wise and deep and fulfilled human beings. He wants us to understand the human heart and to be open and sympathetic friends to all we meet.
In short what Christ wants is in his own words for us to ‘live life to the full’. If non-Christians tell you otherwise then put them right. The Lord of Life does not want or need fearful and gullible followers as part of his religion. He does not want or need people with empty heads who follow him because they are too dumbto do anything else.
No! What Christ wants is fully functioning human beings; people who are intelligent, people who understand life, people who know what his message entails, people who have the courage of their convictions.
And this Church is full of exactly this sort of people. We are not here because we are under pressure, or afraid of a vindictive God. We are not worshiping him because we do not know what else to do on a Sunday morning. We are not meek and mild followers without minds of our own.
No, we are here out of conviction. We are here of our own volition; we are here not because we could not think of anything better that we could be doing, we are here because we believe that the very best thing to do is to worship together with our fellow Christians the Lord of Life and of Love who comes to us in this most beautiful of all the sacraments. And it is our deepest desire and delight to be one of his true and faithful disciples.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
May 11, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Gospel John 10:1-10
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday because on this Sunday we hear the Gospel in which Jesus teaches us about the Good Shepherd. In addition to the Good Shepherd I see two other images that can be looked at, the Lamb of God and the Good Sheep. This gives us three images in the Gospel, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God and the Good Sheep..
Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Voice of the Lord
In the United States, most of our ranches are self contained. By that I mean that the rancher has his own fields for crops or grazing and his own facilities to care for his livestock.
That is not the case in the most of the rest of the world, not just the ancient world of Jesus, but even in the modern world. In much of the world, the animals belonging to various families are kept together in a large pen. This is particularly true regarding sheep.
Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A—May 11, 2014
Gospel (Read Jn 10:1-10)
Today’s reading is best understood within its context in John’s Gospel. In the previous chapter is the account of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind, a Lenten lectionary reading. Recall that it was a lesson about spiritual sight and blindness. The simple blind Jewish man whom Jesus healed was able to see and worship Jesus as the Messiah. The Pharisees who interrogated him, however, wanted nothing to do with Jesus: “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from”