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Fourth Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday – Year A

May 6, 2017

Below is my homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. It was given to Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish in Punxsutawney, PA on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at the 4:30 pm parish mass.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (John 10:1-10)

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Forgive me as I use a script tonight. It’s probably my third homily given in front of a real congregation, so I’m still a little rusty, still trying to get my grip of all this. I’ve done this numerous times in class, but it’s a little different when you have Monsignor who is going to give me a grade later tonight.

“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Now we often hear that “sheep are a stupid animal”

And I would want to say no, they’re not. That’s a very inaccurate statement.

Let’s put it this way: when sheep are out in the wild with their shepherd, it makes more sense for a shepherd to join up with other shepherds in the area. It makes it a lot easier to try to manage your sheep; you have multiple people looking out for the same group. But when it comes time for the shepherds to depart from the others around him, he makes some sort of noise, whether a whistle, or some sort of call, and his sheep follow him.

I’ve had the experience of actually being able to witness this. I had gone to a retreat in high school in Elmira NY at a Benedictine Monastery (Mount Savior Monastery), and up there they have a shepherd within their monastery. He would whistle, and his sheep would line up, one by one, so that he could inspect them before they went to bed at night.

So Now if you ask me, that does not sound like a dumb animal! In fact, it is rather intelligent.

Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel that he is the Shepherd. He has his own call for us, and that we are to respond to him and him alone. Yet, there are others trying to call us away from the Truth.

“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;”

We have many false shepherds in society today. Some false shepherds are fame, fortune, prestige, celebrities, the list goes on, and I know you can name some yourselves; a false shepherd is anyone or anything that draws us away from God.

This can be difficult to differentiate! Jesus even said that false prophets came before him! Yet the people waited for the Good Shepherd to come and lead them home. They knew the master’s call to follow Him.

He has said:

“I have called you by name: you are mine!”

In our baptism, we are called, we are set apart, we begin our journey, we follow the Shepherd. This is a life long journey, it is not a single moment in time, and it is not just specific sacraments. We are living a journey every day. The sacraments grant us special graces to be able to make this journey. They give us the extra fuel to continue our day to day lives. But this is not enough!

We need to pray every day. We need to be in contact with the Good Shepherd, the One who is calling us, every single day! He wants that relationship! He desires that relationship more than anything. And he is patiently waiting. He has called each and every one of us, and we need to respond. We must discern out the false shepherds in our own lives and follow the Truth. The Truth comes from our prayer which should be guided by the Church.

The source and summit of all of our faith is the Holy Eucharist. This Morning, nine of our third graders received their First Holy Communion. They join in with us in a new way in the discernment of the Will of the Good Shepherd. Before their reception of the Eucharist, they received absolution in the Sacrament of Penance, where, through God’s ordaining, the Church dispenses forgiveness of sins. This sacrament not only prepared them but prepares each and every one of us to hear the calling of God again to “come and follow [Him]”. It is through this call that we continue to receive life abundantly, but only if we follow His call.

Whereas sheep follow once they hear the call, we do not always follow. The sacraments allow us an opportunity to return to God and His call.

And when we do follow His will, we receive the promise of abundant life.

But what is this abundant life?

It’s not sunshine and roses every day, I can promise you that; you’re not always going to be happy. But, it is the promise, that even in the difficult times, He will be with us and guide us.

Let us take a moment today and every day, to listen to that still small voice that calls us closer to the Good Shepherd and His distinct calling on every one of our lives.

Fr. Andy

Fr. Andy Boyd is a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Erie, PA. Currently, Father Andy is assigned to Saint George Parish in Erie, PA.

Father Andy entered seminary after high school, graduating from Gannon University and Saint Mark Seminary in 2014. In the fall of 2014, Father Andy began his Major Seminary Studies at Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe PA. Father Andy graduated from Saint Vincent Seminary with his Masters of Divinity in May 2018, and was ordained a priest in June 2018.

An avowed “Catholic Geek,” Fr. Andy spends his free time dabbling in media creation and network and server management.

Listen to Father Andy in his podcast Encounter Mercy.