Monday, April 27, 2015
Shepherds in the OT point to the Good Shepherd: 4th Sunday of Easter
(Listen to this homily here).
I hope everyone is comfortable. I haven’t preached for a week and my battery is charged up…I might just go on and on this morning!
Whenever I hear of shepherds I think of one of my friends, Fr. Albert Wugaa. Fr. Albert is a priest in Ghana, Africa and from the same diocese as Fr. Francis and Fr. Solomon. (He’ll visit here soon enough and you’ll get to meet him). The child Albert was a shepherd boy—at seven or eight years old. While I was in McGregor playing video games, he was in Ghana taking care of his family’s prized possessions. He stayed outside in the heat, cold, rain and dust.
Fr. Albert is an inspiration—one of my heroes (though I’d never tell him that), and has quite a story. His family saw a gift in him and sent him to school to be educated. He hadn’t been in school until ten or so! The school he went to—Catholic. He ended up getting baptized, growing in the faith and recently answered the call to be a priest.
I mention this because shepherds have a special place in the Bible. Think of David. Before he was defeated Goliath, became or king or messed up with Bathsheba he was a shepherd. Or remember to whom the angels announced the birth of Jesus? The shepherds in the fields. We are familiar with one of the greatest Psalms—Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides still waters.”
Here’s another connection to our Gospel in John 10. The more I read the Bible, the more I am amazed by how things that happened or were prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus were fulfilled by Jesus. Check this out, from Ezekiel 34 (you may think it sounds like this is from John, but it isn’t!): “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD.”
With all this in mind, listen again to Jesus’ own words: “I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”
What is one of the main jobs of a shepherd? Protect their flock! Fr. Albert, at a young age, was entrusted with his family’s well being. If one of the sheep or goats was lost, this would mean less food, less money, less clothing for their family. Do you remember what David slew Goliath with? The slingshot? What gave him confidence was that he had killed a bear and a lion to protect his sheep. He put himself in harms way to care for the flock.
This is what Jesus did for us—his flock. He stood in the breach to protect us from death. He laid down his life for our sins. He stands between us and our anxieties, weaknesses, failures, grief and trials.
How do we follow such a Shepherd? Do we thank Jesus for all he has done for us as the Good Shepherd? May we, as part of his flock, follow him closely!