A Note From Fr. LeRoy Scheierl
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday” and so each year our readings on this Sunday really focus on Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
Sheep and shepherds were an important part of ancient Palestine life in both the Old Testament and New Testaments. Even today, in the Holy Land, you will still see shepherds tending their sheep and roaming the hillsides, although not as prominent as in years back. (See Psalm 23 for example)
Think about this: Shepherds were the first to hear of Jesus’ birth and so maybe this is why Jesus often used shepherds and sheep as an image of how God loves and cares, guides and protects, and reveals himself to God’s Chosen People.
Jesus once said, “I am the Good Shepherd who tends his sheep.” Why? Sheep are vulnerable to many predators and so like a good shepherd, Jesus protects his people from sin and death, the devil and evil which can do great harm to us. Most sheep that are lost get that way by their own poor choices. As a Good Shepherd, Jesus helps us make the right choices so that we might not be lost and so find peace in our life. Jesus says, a Good Shepherd will leave the other 99 and go in search for that one lost sheep. To our Lord, every person is worth taking the risk to search out and bring back to the flock, which is the Church. A Good Shepherd will even lay down their life for their sheep. In the same way Jesus laid down his life for us in order to conquer sin and death! Shepherds are constantly on the move looking for green pastures to feed their sheep. Jesus is also constantly on the move feeding us through the Eucharist as we journey through life. Sheep and shepherding, is all about calling and listening. It’s important for us to hear Jesus calling us and for us to listen to His voice so we can be guided to happiness and joy in throughout our life.
There are many other ways we can understand God’s love and care by using Jesus’ image of sheep and shepherds, so I encourage you to meditate on this image and remember God’s great care for each of us.
Finally, this weekend (and in the coming weeks) some of our little sheep (our children) will be receiving their First Holy Communion in our ACC parishes. Let’s please celebrate and pray for them. May they too be guided and fed by Jesus the Good Shepherd as they grow in faith, hope and love in Christ. Amen.
Fr. LeRoy Scheierl