“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me…”. John 10:14
Not many of us have ever owned sheep let alone taken care of sheep—but I have. At one point during my mission days in Peru, I was asked to serve as director of a seminary. As was the custom, when a seminarian arrived to begin his studies, the families would each give a sheep as a gift. Before long, our grounds had become something more than a petting zoo! This city boy had to learn on the fly how to care for his flock.
One day I needed to corral the sheep but they just would not respond. The more I tried to move them together, the more they scattered in all directions. “They’re not very smart,” I thought. Seeing my frustration, a wonderful woman who worked in our kitchen and usually took care of the sheep, came out to rescue me. With a deft call to attention, she brought all the sheep back in what seemed like seconds, including the ones who had jumped the wall and were in danger of getting lost.
I think our relationship with God needs to be like that—responding to the voice we know and the presence we trust. This is what helps us move where we need to go, and to serve where we are being called. Otherwise, sheep scatter and become lost. Without the Gospel and the promise of the Resurrection, we lose our connection to home.
Friend, I think Jesus became the Good Shepherd because sheep need a lot of guidance and a gentle hand. The more we read scripture, celebrate the Sacraments, and strive to witness God’s love, the stronger we become in our faith. And the more we recognize God’s voice of encouragement. We know without a doubt who is calling us home to the safety of greener pastures. It’s the Good Shepherd, the gatherer of souls who says “I know mine, and mine know me…” difficult moments.
Friend, the words of today’s Gospel are a comfort and a consolation. Receive the gift of our Risen Christ knowing that you are never alone, never without the strength you need to love and serve the Lord… just like the disciples who found Christ on the road to Emmaus.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Fourth Sunday of Easter
When I was lost and couldn’t find my way,
You came looking for me, Good Shepherd,
to gently lead me home again.
Protect the flock given You by the Father,
lead us to rest in green pastures and guide
us along the right paths.
You who are shepherd and Lamb of God,
grant that we might never follow
any voice but Yours. Call us by
name and soothe our hearts
when we panic or are confused.
Grant us blessed assurance that
we need not fear nor face dangers alone.
Lord, you told us there are other sheep
not of this fold that You must also lead.
Help us recognize our brothers and sisters
no matter what flock they may belong to
till at length there will be one flock and one shepherd,
You, Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso