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4th Sunday of Easter, Year A – Homily

4th Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
1 Peter 2:20b-25
John 10:1-10
May 11, 2014

We speak of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  We have statues of Jesus as a shepherd holding a lamb. We think of the cute little innocent lamb. Of course, Jesus is the cute innocent lamb sacrificed for us. But we shouldn’t think of the Good Shepherd as just a cute image.  Jesus uses the image of the shepherd to tell us something. Jesus is always teaching us, showing us the way.

So why do Jesus use the image of the shepherd?

First, we must realize in this imagery we are the sheep, the ones the shepherd is to protect. We must also pay attention to Jesus when he speaks of how the sheep recognize the voice of their own shepherd.

To recognize how far this goes, we must know that in those days, the shepherds would often gather their sheep together in one flock. Then, when it was time to go out to pasture the shepherd would open the gate and call to his sheep.  Only the sheep of his own flock would recognize his voice and come out in response to it.

While we do have a couple of parishioners who raise sheep, most of us, myself included (we had cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks but no sheep), do not have first-hand knowledge of what it is like to raise sheep (I’m taking my information from others) but I think this analogy of recognizing the shepherd’s voice is very fitting for us today.

We live in a world with many different voices and, quite frankly, some of these voices lead us astray.  Some say God exists, some say no.  Some say abortion is wrong, some say it is good. Some say speak up for what you believe, some say keep it to yourself.

And these are just the black and white views. Seldom are things black and white.

It can seem like there are countless opinions, countless voices. How are supposed to know which voice to listen to?

The obvious answer for us in church is that we seek God’s voice but which voice speaks for God?

We hear the voices of teachers, priests, politicians, bosses, friends, and relatives like our parents (let us not forget our mothers today).

How do we know who to listen to?  I think the motivation with which people speak is very important. A boss or co-worker might speak out of self-interest or they might speak for a greater good.  A teacher might try to make themself good so they can keep their job or hopefully teachers primary motivation is to help us become good people. Then there are our mothers.  Aren’t the best mothers the ones who act out of love?

Love (understood correctly) is the best motivation.

In love of God and others, we must always desire to speak the truth as God offers it.  For instance, as a priest I am called in a particular way to preach on how God calls us to live.  I could preach based on what is easy to do and what would make you happy.  I can’t do that.  As a priest I have a responsibility to proclaim God’s way.

Actually, we all have a calling that flows from our baptism as priest, prophet, and king to share the truth.

We are not to force it on anyone.  We don’t need to argue. As Peter says when we are insulted, we don’t need to return insults. We just proclaim God’s truth.

We could say it is too difficult. We might want to go looking for an easier way.  The easy way isn’t always the best way. Jesus chose the Cross.  Do you think that was the easy way?

Today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. God is calling us all to serve in some way. For many motherhood or fatherhood is key. Some teach. Some care for the sick or help the poor.  I serve as a priest. None of these are easy.

I take my role as a priest and as a pastor very seriously. It isn’t easy. People can challenge what I say. I do my best to listen to God. It isn’t about what I think is best. The challenge is to hear God’s voice above all the others.

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