The 4th Sunday of Easter is called “Good Shepherd” Sunday, because each year the Gospel highlights a different aspect of a “good shepherd.” This year we are told that the shepherd is a gate that keeps out predators and that the sheep know his voice and follow him. I talk about what the good shepherd does FOR the sheep in today’s homily, which you can find on our St. Pius X website.
But our second reading, from the first letter of Peter, gives us some excellent advice about what we should NOT do, so as to be good shepherds. It specifically says this is how Christ acted and that we should try to do the same to “follow in His footsteps,” the footsteps of the Good Shepherd.
First, no deceit was found in His mouth. One way that we are good shepherds is by making sure that everything that comes out of our mouths is truthful and helpful to people, including our use of social media. So much harm is done in our world, so many people are led astray, by false news, half lies, and unwarranted conclusions. We are leading others by what we say: we need to be sure we are leading them on the right path, if and when we say or post anything.
Second, when he was insulted, he returned no insult. If someone insults us and we insult back, things escalate. If we ignore it or deal with it in a positive way, we are inviting the other to take the right path of charity and kindness. As I listen to our leaders hurl insults at each other, I fear for where it is leading us. What are our children learning? How will we get out of this vicious circle? A good shepherd does not insult others.
Finally, when he suffered, he did not threaten. Retaliation, an eye for an eye, is in our blood. But Jesus has shown us a better way, a way that leads to peace, rather than escalation. The more I can invite peace and understanding into our world, the more I am living as Christ did, showing His goodness and kindness to others.
My friends, what we say and do DOES make a big difference in our world: we influence others and our surrounding environment for good or for bad. Am I generally a good shepherd who invites peace, harmony, and understanding in my milieu? How can I do better?
As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, let us resolve to be the best shepherds possible to each other. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand across my mouth.