Easter 4 B Good Shepherd

First Reading: Acts 4: 8-12
Second Reading: 1 John 3: 1-2
Gospel: John 10: 11-18


1) Pope John Paul II, the good shepherd. The most beautiful and meaningful comment on the life and the legacy of Pope John PaulII was made by the famous televangelist Billy Graham. In a TV Interview he said: “He lived like his Master the Good Shepherd and he died like his Master the Good Shepherd.” In today’s gospel, Jesus claims that he is the Good Shepherd and explains what he does for his sheep.

2) A good shepherd and the Ku Klux Klan: On June 22, 1996 at Ann Arbor,Michigan, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally at the City Hall. They had a permit forthe event, it was advertised in advance, and more than 300 demonstrators appeared to protest the rally. One Klansman, who was wearing clothes displaying the Confederate flag, was attacked by a swarm of demonstrators and pushed to the ground. Appalled, an 18-year-old African-American girl named Keisha Thomas threw herself over the fallen man, shielding him with her own body from the kicks and punches. Keisha, when asked why she, a black teenager, would risk injury to protect a man who was a white supremacist, said, “He’s still somebody’s child. I don’t want people to remember my name but I’d like them to remember I did the right thing.”
3) A good shepherd-sergeant’s story: There was once a sergeantin the Marines who was the senior enlisted man in his platoon. One day his outfit was ambushed and pinned down by enemy fire. The lieutenant in command was badly wounded as were many of the men. The sergeant took over and extricated the men from the trap, though he himself was wounded twice. He carried out the wounded commanding officer by himself. Miraculously every man in the platoon survived, even the wounded lieutenant. Later the men said that if it were not for the incredible bravery of the sergeant they all would have been killed. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but received the DFC. He never wore the medal, however,because he said the lives of his men were more important than any medal. Later when he had children of his own, he loved them almost like a mother. His wifesaid that during the war he had learned how to be tender.
4) Good shepherd and the terrorists: In the film The Delta Force there is the beautiful picture of a good shepherd presented by a Catholic priest. A jet plane with American tourists is hijacked by Arab terrorists and later the tourists are held hostage in the plane which was landed by force in Beirut. At the beginning of the tragedy, the two Arab terrorists aboard the jetliner begin to separate the few Jewish tourists from the rest of the hostages. One of the most moving moments of the film is when Fr. William O’Malley, a priest from Chicago played by George Kennedy, gets up from his seat and walks into the First Class compartment where the Jews are being held. The priest courageously walks into the compartment where he is disdainfully met by the leading terrorist. The terrorist asks what his name is and the priest responds that hisname is William O’Malley. Perplexed by the situation, the terrorist asks what the priest wants. He responds that since he is a Catholic priest and a follower of Jesus Christ, a Jew, he too is Jewish. “If you take one, you have to take us all”,answers the priest who willingly accompanies the Jewish hostages. At the end ofthe story we find Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris lead an elite team of U.S.Special Forces that rescues the endangered travelers.


The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The scripture lessons are about shepherds. Each year on this Sunday we reflecton the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, devotedly taking care of his flock. The title of the parish priest, "pastor," means shepherd. A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects his flock—responsibilities that belong to every church leader. The earliest Christians had seen Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish dream of a good shepherd. They also wished to include the Gentiles as part of God’s flock. In today's first reading,Peter asserts unequivocally before the Jewish assembly that there is no salvation except through Christ the Good Shepherd whom the Jewish leaders have rejected and crucified, and in whose name the apostles preach and heal. In the second reading, St. John tells us how Yahweh the Good Shepherd of theOld Testament expressed His love for us through His Son Jesus, the Good Shepherd, by making us His children. The Gospel text offers us both comfort and challenge. The comforting good news is that Jesus the Good Shepherd knows us, provides for us and loves us. The challenge is that we should be good shepherds to those entrusted to ourcare.
First reading, Acts 4:8-12: After describing the ascension of Jesus in the first chapter and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the second chapter, the Acts of the Apostles describes in its third chapter Peter’s healing and preaching ministry. The healing of the cripple and the resulting evangelization by Peter resulted in his arrest by the Temple guards. They hauled Peter and his companions to the assembly of the leaders, elders and the scribes. Today's reading tells us that in the trial before theSanhedrin (Acts 4:5-22), Peter was empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear a renewed Easter witness to the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Nazarene, who had been unjustly crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead. Peter explained that he had healed the cripple in the name of Jesus, whom the Jews had despised and rejected but whom God had made into the cornerstone of his faith. What moved Peter to act on behalf of the cripple was his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who, as the good shepherd, cares for such people. In imitation of the Lord who had always cared for the sick and the lowly, Peter was also moved by the same risen Lord to reach out, touch, and heal the cripple. Then Peter made the startling statement about salvation coming only through Christ Jesus: “Salvation is to be found through him alone. In all the world there is no one else whom God has given whocan save us.”
Second Reading, 1 John 3:1-2: The New American Bible in itsintroduction to John’s letters states that John wrote these letters to the Judeo-Christian community some of whose members were advocating false doctrines(2:18-26; 3:7). They refused to accept the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus, disregarded the commandment oflove of neighbor, refused to accept faith in Christ as the source ofsanctification and denied the redemptive value of Jesus' death. After recognizing and correcting these errors, John in today’s second reading reminds his people that they should remember their privileges. First, it is their privilege to be called thechildren of God. John clarifies that we are not merely called the children of God; we are God's children in actuality. It is by grace through baptism that we become God’s children. The more we know and love the God we believe in,the more we will strive to act and live as God's children. In other words, we become like the God we believe in. Asthe culmination of all our privileges as children of God, when Christ appears,we shall see him “as He really is,” and we shall be like him.


The context: It was in the winter time, probably the time of the Jewish Hanukkah feast(the Feast of Dedication), which commemorated the triumph of the Jewish commander Judas Maccabaeus over the Syrian leader Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 165B.C. Jesus was walking on the east side of the temple, which offered protectionagainst the cold winds from the desert. The Jews had gathered roundhim. They were not sure whether or not Jesus was the promisedMessiah. They tried to assess the situation, by asking Jesus whether hewas the Christ or simply a wandering preacher, one of the many wandering preachers and healers. Instead of giving them astraight answer, Jesus tells them that he is the Good Shepherd and explains to them his role as such.
Shepherds in the Old Testament: In the Old Testament, the image of the Shepherd is often applied to God as well as to the leaders of the people. The book of Exodus several times calls Yahweh a shepherd. Likewise, the prophetsIsaiah and Ezekiel compare Yahweh’s care and protection of His people to thatof a shepherd. “He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against His breast and leading the mother ewes to their rest.” (Is. 40:11). Ezekiel represents God as aloving shepherd who searches diligently for the lost sheep. Psalm 23is David’s famous picture of God as The Good Shepherd: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me.” The prophets often use harsh words to scold the selfish and insincere shepherds (or leaders) of their day. Jer.23:1: “Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered." Ez. 34: 2: “Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Shepherds ought to feed their flock.”
The Good Shepherd in the New Testament: Introducing himself as the good shepherd of his flock, Jesus makes three claims in today’s gospel.
1) He knows his sheep and his sheep hear his voice: Just as the Palestinian shepherds knew each sheep of their flock by name, and the sheep knew their shepherd and his voice, even so Jesus knows each one of us, ourneeds, our merits and our faults. Of course the knowledge talked of here is not mere intellectual knowing but knowledge that comes from love and leadsto care and concern for the other. He loves us as we are, with all our limitations, and he expects us to receive and return his love by keeping his words. He speaks to us at every Mass, through the Bible, through our pastors, through our parents, family and friends and through the events of our lives. "God whispers to us in our pleasures, he speaks to us in our consciences, and he SHOUTS to us in our pain!" (C.S. Lewis).
2)He gives eternal life to his sheep by receiving us into his sheepfold through Baptism. He strengthens our faith by giving us his Holy Spirit in Confirmation. He supplies food for our souls by the Holy Eucharist and by the divine words of the holy Bible. He makes our society holy by the sacraments of matrimony and the priesthood.
3) Heprotects his sheep by placing them in the loving hands of his mightyFather. Without him to guide us and protect us, we are easy preyfor the spiritual wolves of this world: that includes Satan, aswell as the seven deadly sins of pride, avarice, envy, gluttony,anger, lust and sloth. In the first part ofchapter ten of John’s Gospel, Jesus adds two more roles to those ofthe good shepherd. He goes in search of stray lambs and heals the sick ones. Jesus heals the wounds of our souls by the sacrament of Reconciliation and strengthens us in illness and old age by the sacramentof the Anointing of the Sick.
4) Jesus dies for his sheep: Just as the shepherds of ancient days protected their sheep from wild animals and thieves by risking their own lives, so Jesus died in expiation for the sins of all people. Inthe final part of this gospel Jesus invites those who are touched and saved by the love of the Shepherd, to shepherd and care for others. "There are other sheep that are not of this fold and these I have to lead as well."Though he cares for his own, he does not discriminate and ultimately dies because he cares for all peoples.

Life messages :

Letus become good shepherds and good sheep.
1) Let us become good shepherds: Every one who is entrustedwith the care of others is a shepherd. Hence pastors, parents, teachers,doctors, nurses, government officials and politicians are all shepherds. Since shepherding a diocese, aparish, a civil community or a family is very demanding, dedication,commitment, sacrifice and vigilance are needed every day on the part of theshepherds. Webecome good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them,spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them fromphysical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful oftheir duties as shepherds by becoming role models for their children by leadingexemplary lives
2) Let us be good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parishis our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Jesus is theHigh Priest, the bishops are the successors of the apostles, the pastors aretheir helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. Hence, as the goodsheep of our parish, a) Let us hear and follow the voice of ourshepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice. b)Let us take the spiritual food given by our pastors through regular and activeparticipation in the Holy Mass and by frequenting the sacraments, prayerservices, renewal programs and missions. c) Let us cooperate withour pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish,encouraging them in their duties, occasionally correcting them withconstructive criticism and by praying for them. Let us also cooperate inthe activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations.
3) Let us pray for vocations to priestly and religious life so that we may have more holy and Spirit-filledshepherds to lead, feed and protect the Catholic community. Christian thinking on vocationhas been summarized in one profound saying: “Allare priests, some are priests, but only one is the Priest.” Christ Jesus isthe Priest in the full sense because he is the one mediator between God and humanity who offered himself as aunique sacrifice on the cross. The universal priesthood of all believers, the sharing of all the baptizedin the priesthood of Christ, has received special emphasis since Vatican II. Those who are called to make a lifelong commitment to serve as ordained ministers share the ministerial priesthood of Jesus. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations we are asked to encourage and pray for ouryoung men to respond to God’s call to serve His Church in the ministerialpriesthood.

Additional Anecdotes

1) "May I see your driver's license?" Everyone, it seems, is interested in my numbers. I go to the grocery store to buy some groceries. After the checkout woman rings up my bill,I pull out my check book and write out the check. She takes it from me. Shelooks at the information. Numbers tell her where I live. Numbers tell her howto reach me on the telephone. "Is this information correct?" sheasks.” Yes, it is," I reply. "May I see your driver's license?"she asks. She looks at my driver's license and writes some more numbers on mycheck. Finally, I am approved. The numbers are all there. I can eat for anotherweek. One could wish it were a bit more human and personal. So the IRS knows meby my tax number. My state knows me by my driver's license number. My bankknows me by my bank account number. My employer knows me by my social securitynumber. On and on it goes for you, for me, for everybody. Everybody knows mynumbers. I am not sure that anyone knows me! The numbers game that is played inour culture is one symptom of loneliness and alienation that surrounds ustoday. "All the lonely people, where do they all comefrom?" That is a line from an early song by the Beatles. Loneliness. Isolation. Alienation. These are the realities of contemporary civilized life. "I am the good shepherd." These are Jesus' words inour reading from John's gospel text for this sermon. "I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me ..." Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus knows uspersonally and loves us.
2) Jesus knows his sheep by name: There have always been people with a good memory for names: Napoleon,"who knew thousands of his soldiers by name . . .” or James A. Farley,"who claimed he knew 50,000 people by their first name . . .” or CharlesSchwab, "who knew the names of all 8,000 of his employees at HomesteadMill . . .” or Charles W. Eliot, "who, during his forty years as presidentof Harvard, earned the reputation of knowing all the students by name each year. . .” or Harry Lorayne, "who used to amaze hisaudiences by being introduced to hundreds of people, one after another, thengiving the name of any person who stood up and requested it.” But can youimagine Christ knowing all his sheep by name? That's millions and millions ofpeople over 2,000 years. No wonder we call him Master, Lord, Savior – watching over his flock, calling each by name.
3) “I only know them by name." Tony Campolo loves to tell the story of a particular censustaker who went to the home of a rather poor family in the mountains of WestVirginia to gather information. He asked the mother how many dependents shehad. She began, "Well, there is Rosie, and Billy, and Lewella,Susie, Harry, and Jeffrey. There's Johnny, and Harvey, and our dog, Willie."It was then that the census taker interrupted her aid said: "No, ma'am,that's not necessary. I only need the humans." "Ah," she said. "Well, there is Rosie, andBilly, and Lewella, Susie, Harry, and Jeffrey,Johnny, and Harvey, and...." But there once again, the census takerinterrupted her. Slightly exasperated, he said, "No, ma'am, you don't seemto understand. I don't need their names, I just need the numbers." Towhich the old woman replied, "But I don't know them by numbers. I onlyknow them by name." Intoday’s gospel Jesus the good shepherd says that he knows his sheep by name.
4) “I'd like to preserve my integrity and credibility."About 4 years ago, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, offered WGN Chicago Radio sports-talk host David Kaplan$50,000 to change his name legally to "Dallas Maverick." When Kaplanpolitely declined, Cuban sweetened the offer. Cuban would pay Kaplan $100,000and donate $100,000 to Kaplan's favorite charity if he took the name for oneyear. After some soul searching, and being bombarded by e-mails from listenerswho said he was crazy to turn down the money, Kaplan held firm and told Cubanno. Kaplan explained: "I'd be saying I'd do anything for money, and thatbothers me. My name is my birthright. I'd like to preserve my integrity andcredibility." Skip Bayless, ChicagoTribune (1/10/01), Leadership Summer2001) The name "Christian" is our birthright. From the moment of ourbaptism and our birth into the Kingdom of God, we are the sheep of the Good Shepherd who promises to lead us to green pastures andbeside the still waters. The Voice of the Shepherd protects us.
5) His master’s voice: Have you ever seen the painting donein the 1930s of a dog, looking with a cocked head, at an old gramophone? Thename of the painting is His Master'sVoice, and it's a symbol of what Jesus is saying to us. "The sheeplisten to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."
6) “I know the psalm. The pastor knows the Shepherd.” Afamous actor was the guest of honor at a social gathering. As people gatheredaround, they asked the actor to recite excerpts from various literary works. Heobliged and did so brilliantly. Finally, an elderly pastor asked the actor torecite the 23rd Psalm. The actor hesitated at first and then agreed on onecondition. The pastor would return the favor. The actor’s recitation wasbrilliant and eloquent. People responded to the actor with lengthy applause.The pastor’s rendition was feeble and frail. But when the pastor finished, therewas not a dry eye in the house. Finally, the actor broke the silence with thesewords: “I know the psalm. The pastor knows the Shepherd.” “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Do you know theShepherd? Have you found Him to be good? Have you discovered He is all youneed?
7) “Then we FLEECE them!” Two television evangelists weretalking. One was explaining how he was seeking to be the ideal shepherd to histelevision flock. “There are three ways I seek to do that,” he said. “Whatthree ways do you mean?” asked the other evangelist. “Well” he explained,“First, we FIND them. Every year we find new stations to carry our ministry.Then we FEED them. I give them the plain unvarnished word of God.” “But what’sthe third thing?” asked the second evangelist. “Well,” he answered, “Once we’vefound them and fed them, then we FLEECE them!” Some TV evangelists have becomequite proficient at fleecing their flock. I hope you understand that nothingcould be farther from the example of Christ. Jesus said, “I am the goodshepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep . . .” Fleecingthe flock is a long way from laying down your life for them.
8) “But I never jumped.” A paratrooper who had recentlyresigned from the military was asked how many times he had jumped out of anairplane. He said, “None.” A friend of his asked, “What do you mean, ‘none,’ Ithought you were a paratrooper?” He said, “I was, but I never jumped. I waspushed several times . . . but I never jumped.” The hired hand never jumps. Hehas to be pushed. Churches often have hired hands in them. Not our church, ofcourse. But other churches are full of people who have to be pushed to do whatthey know they ought to do. Jesus did not have to be pushed.
9) “I give my life for my sheep”: We applaud when a man orwoman gives his or her life for another. Such instances do come along from timeto time. Murfreesboro, Tennessee. May 28, 1989: "Former NFL footballplayer Jerry Anderson," read the newspaper account, "died Saturday afterpulling two young boys out of a rain-swollen riverabout 40 miles southeast of Nashville. Witnesses said Anderson saw two boys,thought to be 11 or 12 years old, attempting to cross a dam spanning the river.One or both boys fell into the water. According to OfficerBill Todd, ‘Mr. Anderson jumped in the water and managed to get the little boysout, but witnesses said he went under two or three times and about the fourthtime, he didn't come back up.’" He gave his life to rescue two small boys.

Of course, you don't have to be an American or a football player for suchheroic actions. In a Middle school in the Ukrainian village of Ivanichi a young teacher died sometime back. He absorbedthe blast of a hand grenade to protect his pupils. What was a grenade doing ina middle school? According to the London Times,the teacher, a graduate of the KGB border guard college, had been deliveringthe military instruction that is a compulsory part of the curriculum for Sovietchildren. He was teaching them how to handle what should have been an unarmedgrenade. When he pulled the pin a wisp of smoke showed that a live grenade hadbecome mixed in with demonstration grenades, and he gave his life.

You don't have to be a man to perform such heroics. Many years ago a womancarrying a baby through the hills of South Wales, England, was overtaken by ablizzard. Searchers found her later frozen to death in the snow. Amazed thatshe had on no outer garments, they searched further and found her baby. She hadwrapped them around the child, who was still alive and well. He grew up to beDavid Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain in World War I.
10) Big Brother is watching us: Ever since 1984 hit the bookstores,people concerned about individual privacy and freedom have looked for signsthat Big Brother is becoming a reality in our society. And it is true that moreand more of our urban landscape is being observed by security cameras. But thatis only one way our privacy is being invaded. There was a news report severalyears ago that Israeli scientists are now marketing a microchip that, implantedunder the skin, will protect film stars and millionaires from kidnappers. Thechip emits a signal detectable by satellite to help rescuers determine avictim’s approximate location. Originally the chip was developed to trackIsraeli secret-service agents abroad. The $5,000 chip doesn’t even requirebatteries. It runs solely on the neurophysiologicalenergy generated within the human body. The firm which developed it, Gen-Etics, won’t reveal where the chip is inserted but saidthat, at that time, 43 people had had it implanted. Since this report waspublished there has been an explosion of interest in this technology. Farmerskeep tabs on the health and safety of their cows and other livestock with suchchips. But the use of such devices to monitor human beings is almost limitless.Already there is a monitoring bracelet for Alzheimer patients, so that familiescan use GPS systems to help find loved ones who might have wandered off. Wouldit be inconceivable that loving parents might want to monitor the whereaboutsof their children via satellite? Why not have a chip implanted. Pet owners arealready using such technology. Some cynics have suggested that some wives mightwant to monitor their husbands. Soon we will see signs, “Big Brother iswatching.” Here’s what’s amusing to me. There are people who have no difficultybelieving that one day the government will keep track of us all, but who cannotconceive that an all-knowing God can take a personal interest in each of Hischildren, hear each of our prayers, and be responsive to each of our individualneeds.
11) Images are highly influential. They become emblazonedon the wall of our minds, and they evoke a wide range of responses. Millions ofpeople will remember the fireman carrying the baby out of the ruins of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. World War IIveterans, particularly the ones who served in the South Pacific, will alwaysremember Mount Surabachi and the Marines who raisedan American flag at its summit, as well as the image of General MacArthurreturning to the Philippines. Neil Armstrong taking that first step on the moonin the early '70s is frozen in many memories, too. If you were old enough towatch and understand television in l963, you probably remember young John F.Kennedy, Jr., at the casket of his father Jack. Much closer to our own time,many of us will long retain the image of students running out of Columbine HighSchool with their hands over their heads. Some images are immensely powerfuland have a tenacity that is tireless and timeless. If there is one imageassociated with the Christian faith which, more than any other, has found anenduring place within the collective life of the Christian church, it is theimage of Jesus as the good shepherd.
12) Hannah and Her Sisters. A recent movie by Woody Allen was titled, Hannah and Her Sisters. The movie dealsprecisely with that theme. It is about Hannah and her sisters and how familylife gives some sense of stability to life in a fractured world. The partplayed by Woody Allen in the movie is the part of a man who is constantlyafraid that he will get some terrible disease. He is what we call ahypochondriac. As he comes into the movie, we see him on his way to the doctor.The doctor assures him that nothing seems to be terribly wrong, though someadditional tests need to be made. Woody cannot calm himself over theseadditional tests. He is sure they will find something terrible. "What areyou afraid of," one of his friends asks him, "cancer?""Don't say that," Woody responds with a look of terror. More testsare performed. A cat scan is prescribed for his head. He is sure they will finda brain tumor. But his fears are unfounded. The doctor announces to him thatall is well. In the next scene we see Woody coming out of the hospital, kickingup his heels, and running joyfully down the street. He is celebrating. Butsuddenly he stops. We know instinctively why he stops. He tells us in the nextscene. "All this means," he says, "isthat I am all right this time. Next time it will probably be serious.” Ourlives are lived in constant danger. Woody Allen's character overplays thedanger. But the danger is there. There are all kinds of realities that imperilour lives nearly every day. Accidents might befall us. Natural disastersstrike. Oppressive structures of life weigh us down. Disease stalks us anddeath awaits. That is the way life is. We live ourlives in constant peril. Woody Allen might have exaggerated a bit, but he isright. Human life is an endangered species. Death calls a halt to every humanlife. "I am the good shepherd," Jesus says. "The good shepherdlays down his life for the sheep."
13) The Bismarck: In the beginning of World War II, theNazis commissioned a massive battleship named the Bismarck. It was the biggest fighting vessel theworld had seen up to that time. With the Bismarck the Germans had the opportunity to dominate theseas. Very soon after it was commissioned, the Bismarck sank tons of Allied shipping and allied aircraft. Its massive armor plating resulted in the boast that the Bismarck was unsinkable. But the Bismarck was sunk. And it was sunk due to one lonetorpedo. A torpedo hit the Bismarckin the rudder. As a result the battleship zig-zagged through the sea, unableto reach harbor. It was only a short while before the British navywas able to overtake and destroy it. No matter how large the battleship may be, it is doomed without a rudderto direct it. Floundering on the waters of chaos without a rudder, the Bismarck is a modern-day image of aworld without the direction of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Without the Lord,the world is headed toward chaos. But with the Lord there is guidance,direction and purpose in life.
14) Alexander, the shepherd of soldiers. When theemperor Alexander the Great was crossing the Makran Desert on his way toPersia, his army ran out of water. The soldiers were dying of thirst asthey advanced under the burning sun. A couple of Alexander's lieutenantsmanaged to capture some water from a passing caravan. They brought some to himin a helmet. He asked, "Is there enough for both me and mymen?" "Only you, sir," they replied. Alexander then liftedup the helmet as the soldiers watched. Instead of drinking, he tipped itover and poured the water on the ground. The men let up a great shout ofadmiration. They knew their general would not allow them to sufferanything he was unwilling to suffer himself.
15) “It will kill you if you move.” A soldierdying on a Korean battle field asked for a priest. The Medic could not findone. A wounded man lying nearby heard the request and said, “I am a priest.”The Medic turned to the speaker and saw his condition, which was as bad as thatof the other. “It will kill you if you move,” he warned. But the woundedchaplain replied. “The life of a man’s soul is worth more than a few hours ofmy life.” He then crawled to the dying soldier, heard his confession, gave himabsolution and the two died hand in hand.
16) Four clergymen, taking a shortbreak from their heavy schedules, were on a park bench, chatting and enjoyingan early spring day. “You know, since all of us are such good friends,” saidone, “this might be a good time to discuss personal problems.” They all agreed.“Well, I would like to share with you the fact that I drink to excess,” saidone. There was a gasp from the other three. Then another spoke up. “Since youwere so honest, I’d like to say that my big problem is gambling. It’s terrible,I know, but I can’t quit. I’ve even been tempted to take money from thecollection plate.” Another gasp was heard, and the third clergyman spoke. “I’mreally troubled, brothers, because I’m growing fond of a woman in my church — amarried woman.” More gasps. But the fourth remained silent. After a few minutesthe others coaxed him to open up. “The fact is,” he said, “I just don’t knowhow to tell you about my problem.” “It’s all right, brother. Your secret issafe with us,” said the others. “Well, it’s this way,” he said. “You see, I’man incurable gossip.” Jokes like this have shaped our views of priests as ifthere is no difference between the life and work of a priest and that of otherChristians. Today’s gospel tells us that priests are expected to be Good Shepherdsas the picture given by Jesus. (Fr. Munacci).
17) Who is Your Shepherd?
The TV is my shepherd Ishall not want,
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith,
It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake.
Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,
There will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote control, they comfort me
It prepares a commercial for me in the midst of my worldliness
And anoints my head with secular humanism and consumerism.
My covetousness runs over;
Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life,

And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.
(Broadcasted on EWTN on March 18 2002)


1) A man comes upon a shepherd guarding his flock, and proposes a wager: "I will bet you $100, against one of yoursheep, that I can tell you the exact number in this flock," the man says.The shepherd accepts. "973," says the man. The shepherd, astonished at the accuracy, says "I'm a man of my word; take the sheep you havewon." The man picks a ‘sheep’ and begins to walk away. "Wait,"cries the shepherd, "Let me have a chance to get even. Double or nothing that I can guess your exact occupation.” "Sure,"replies the man. "You work for the Tax Bureau," says theshepherd. "Amazing!" responds the man, "How did you deducethat?” "Well," says the shepherd, "if you will first putdown my dog, I will tell you."
2) Q. How do you make God smile? Tell Him your plans! (Sent by Fr. Brian)
3) It's been said that every pastor ought to have six weeks of vacation each year, because if he is a real good shepherd, he deserves it; and if he is not a very good shepherd, his congregation deserves it.


The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The scripture lessons are about shepherds. Each year on this Sunday were flect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, devotedly taking careof his flock. The priest in charge of a parish is called pastorbecause pastor means shepherd of Christ’s sheep. As a shepherd, he leads,feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects Christ’s sheep in theparish. The earliest Christians saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish dream of a good shepherd. They also wished to include the Gentiles as part of God’sflock.

Scripture Lessons

In today's first reading, Peter asserts unequivocally before the Jewish assembly that there is no salvation except through Christ the Good Shepherd whom the Jewish leaders have rejected and crucified and in whose name the apostles preach and heal. In the second reading, St. John tells us how Yahweh the Good Shepherd of the Old Testament expressed His love for us through His Son Jesus, the Good Shepherd, by making us His children. In the gospel passage the Pharisees asks Jesus to clarify if he is the promised messiah. Jesus’ answer is “I am the good shepherd.” Jesus claims that as a good shepherd he knows his sheep and loves them so much that he is ready to die for them. The gospel text offers us both comfortand challenge. The comforting good news is that Jesus the Good Shepherd knows us, provides for us and loves us. The challenge is that weshould become good shepherds to those entrusted to our care and good sheep in our parish, the sheepfold of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Life Messages

Let us become good shepherds and good sheep
1) Let us become good shepherds: Every one who is entrustedwith the care of others is a shepherd. Hence pastors, parents, teachers,doctors, nurses, government officials and politicians are all shepherds.
Since shepherding a diocese, aparish, a civil community or a family is very demanding, dedication,commitment, sacrifice and vigilance are needed every day on the part of the shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted tous, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties as shepherds, becoming role models for their children by leading exemplary lives.
2) Letus be good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parishis our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Jesus is the High Priest, the bishops are the successors of the apostles, the pastors are their helpers and the parishioners are the sheep. We become good sheep of our parish a) By hearing and following the voice of our shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counsel ling and advice. b)By taking the spiritual food given by our pastors through regular and active participation in the Holy Mass and by frequenting the sacraments, prayer services, renewal programs and missions. c) By cooperating withour pastors giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, encouraging them in their ministry, occasionally correcting them with constructive criticism and by praying for them. d) By cooperating as good stewards in the activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations.
3) Let us pray for vocations topriestly and religious life so that we may have more holy and Spirit-filled shepherds to lead, feed and protect the Catholic community. Christian thinking on vocation has been summarized in one profound saying: “Allare priests, some are priests, but only one is the Priest.” Christ Jesus isthe Priest in the full sense becausehe is the one mediator between God and humanity who offered himself, aunique sacrifice on the cross. The universal priesthood of all believers, the sharing of all the baptizedin the priesthood of Christ, has received special emphasis since Vatican II.Those who are called to make a lifelong commitment to serve as ordained ministers share the ministerial priesthood of Jesus. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations we are asked to encourage and pray for ouryoung men to respond to God’s call to serve His Church in the ministerial priesthood.
John 10:11-18 - "The Good Shepherd"
1 John 3:16-24 - "Candidates for God's Candid Camera" by Leonard Sweet

It is small wonder that the image of the shepherd was frequently upon the lips of the savior. It was a part of his heritage and culture. Abraham, the father of the nation, was the keeper of great flocks. Moses was tending the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro, when God called him into a special service. David was a shepherd boy called in from the fields to be the King of Israel.
The imagery of the shepherd was also imprinted upon the literature of the day. The 23rd Psalm is frequently referred to as the shepherd psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters."

When Isaiah spoke of the coming of the Messiah he worded it by saying: "He will feed his flock like a shepherd! He will gather his lambs into his arms." Yes, the tradition of the shepherd was very much a part of the heritage of Christ.
This picture comes more clearly into focus in the New Testament. Jesus once told a story about a shepherd who had 100 sheep, but one of them went astray. In our way of thinking a 99% return on our investment would be most desirable, but not this shepherd. He left the 99 to go in search of that one lost sheep. Later, when Jesus was speaking to a great throng of people, Mark tells us that he had compassion upon them because they were "as sheep without a shepherd."
Throughout the Judeo-Christian faith, then, the image of the shepherd has been stamped upon our thinking. In our scripture text for this morning Jesus again taps into this imagery when he refers to himself as the good shepherd. For a few moments this morning, I would like for us to examine together what he had in mind when he described himself as the Good Shepherd.
1. First, we have a shepherd that is a genuine shepherd.
2. Second, I think that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep.
3. Third, the Good Shepherd also includes other sheep.
4. Fourth, the shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
Everyone hates to be surprised.
And loves it.
It didn't take long for something called "television" to find that out. Filming people when they didn't know they were on camera brought extremely entertaining and unexpected results.
Anyone remember "Candid Camera?"
Can you remember the name of the host? . . . . [Allen Funt].
Can you remember the catchphrase of the show? . . . ["Smile, You're on Candid Camera"].
In the early 60's, "Candid Camera" secretly recorded the reactions of people when they were confronted with strange and surprising circumstances. Actors would approach a random person "on the street" with some proposal or problem. The film crew would then secretly film the good, bad, or indifferent behavior of those individuals. People were asked to hold bags of money, tend fussy babies, stay put while a sprinkler system doused them, listen to terrible concerts. The situations the "candid camera" came up with were classic and comic. For the most part, people seemed to cope graciously with whatever they were asked to do. But almost everyone ended up at some point with that "what-have-I-got-myself-into" look of desperation on their face.
Flash forward fifty years. TV is still doing the "candid camera" thing, but with far less comedy involved. Although Ashton Kutcher's "Punked" was a comedic but crueler version of Candid Camera, most undercover filming, catching people being themselves when they think no one's looking, now ends up as an "expose." From "Under Cover Boss" that has CEO's pose as a hired hand in order to get the view from the bottom about how their company works to "Restaurant Stakeout," where secret cameras film what none of us want to know about what is really going on in the kitchens of our favorite restaurants, bad behavior is what predominates. Overwhelmingly it seems that if "no one is watching," we are no longer watching out for anyone except ourselves.
Is there any better feeling, for a parent, than to hear how their children conducted themselves when you were not there? What a rush to hear back after your kid spends the night at a friend's, "Oh, your son was so polite." Or after a party you are told, "Your daughter was so great at listening to my grandmother." Or after a special meal, "Your kids were the first ones up to help clear the table." Knowing your kids are practicing what you've preached - even when you are not around - makes every parent feel like they've won a medal.
The truth is we are all children. We all have a parent watching out for us and over us and encouraging us to behave in a certain way. All the time. Are you behaving as your Father taught - as the Son taught - even when you think no one is "watching?" Or are you guilty of "behaving badly" because you believe the "camera" is off?
We all know from the Genesis story of Abraham and Sarah's shared meal with some passing strangers that we might at anytime be "entertaining angels unawares." But the directive from 1 John in this week's epistle text takes that mandate a step further. It is, in fact, sometimes much easier to extend hospitality and help to a stranger than it is to the neighbor we know, the "brother or sister" we see every day and know who they are and from where they come...
How Would the Good Shepherd Look Now?
Those of you who are familiar with art may recall a funny habit which many Medieval painters practiced for quite a long time in Europe, and particularly in Germany. Artists such as Lukas Cranach and others painted many depictions of biblical scenes but they did so with the curious twist of dressing the biblical characters in the contemporary garb of the Middle Ages. So in one Cranach painting of which I have a copy, you see Mary and Joseph tending to their newborn son in a Bethlehem stable. You also see shepherds and others in the picture but every last one of them looks like a then-contemporary European. The men are wearing tights, silk shirts with puffy sleeves, and those big hats common to that era. All in all it was an interesting way to contemporize ancient stories.
But that mixing up of the old with the new and the past with the current must also have caused some eyebrows to be raised. Can you imagine what most conservative Christians today would say if some artist painted a portrait depicting Joseph in a pair of Gap jeans, Mary wearing Ralph Lauren blouse, and the magi in snappy suits from Armani?! There would almost surely be an outcry. You should not import the holy, sacred images of Scripture into a contemporary setting like that. It creates confusion, doesn't seem terribly respectful. And anyway we perhaps risk "losing" something of the original presentation by mixing it up with the trappings of our modern world.
But in a real way, can we even avoid looking at the old through the lens of what is current? In this Eastertide lection from the Year B Common Lectionary we arrive at the most famous metaphor for Jesus in the Bible: the good shepherd. We have all likely seen one form or another of this particular image depicted countless times in most of the churches we have ever visited, on greeting cards, in artwork, and in many more places besides.
Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
That's All I Want
A little girl reciting the 23rd Psalm began, "The Lord is my shepherd; that's all I want." Maybe she missed the wording, but she sure got the theology right. To have Jesus as our shepherd is indeed a blessing. As he moves towards the cross, Jesus holds up this model of the good shepherd, reminding his listeners that a good shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep. He would give his life to protect the sheep from thieves, wild animals, or whatever danger might confront the flock. We can give him our allegiance because of his commitment to us.
B. Wiley Stephens, One Life to Give
Humor: I Should Have Taken the Money
The college faculty gathered for their weekly meeting. A professor of archeology brought with him a lamp recently unearthed in the Middle East. It was reported to contain a genie, who, when the lamp was rubbed would appear and grant one wish.
A professor of philosophy was particularly intrigued. He grabbed the lamp and rubbed it vigorously. Suddenly a genie appeared and made him an offer. He could choose one of three rewards: wealth, wisdom, or beauty. Without hesitating, the philosophy professor selected wisdom. "Done!" said the genie and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
All the other faculty members turned toward the professor, who sat surrounded by a halo of light. At length, one of his colleagues whispered, "Say something. What wise insight do you now have?"
The professor, much wiser now, sighs and says, "I should have taken the money."
King Duncan, Collected Sermons,
True Abundant Life
One day a man stopped in a convenience store to get a newspaper. He noticed that the owner of the store had tears in his eyes and kept looking out the window. He asked what was going on.
The store owner said, "Do you see that bus bench over there? There's a woman who comes there every day around this time. She sits there for about an hour, knitting and waiting. Buses come and go, but she never gets on one and no one ever gets off for her to meet. The other day, I carried her a cup of coffee and sat with her for a while.
"Her only son lives a long way away. She last saw him two years ago, when he boarded one of the buses right there. He is married now, and she has never met her daughter-in-law or seen their new child. She told me, 'It helps to come here and wait. I pray for them as I knit little things for the baby, and I imagine them in their tiny apartment, saving money to come home. I can't wait to see them.'"
The reason the owner was looking out the window at that particular moment was that the three of them--the son, his wife and their small child--were just getting off the bus. The look on the woman's face when this small family fell into her arms was one of pure joy. And this joy only increased when she looked into the face of her grandchild for the first time. The store owner commented, "I'll never forget that look as long as I live."
The next day the same man returned to the convenience store. The owner was again behind the counter. Before the store owner could say or do anything, the customer said, "You sent her son the money for the bus tickets, didn't you?"
The store owner looked back with eyes full of love and a smile and replied, "Yes, I sent the money." Then he repeated his statement from the day before, "I'll never forget that look as long as I live." This man had discovered a measure of the abundant life.
King Duncan, Collected Sermons,
I Am the Door
George Adam Smith, the 19th century biblical scholar tells of traveling one day in the holy land and coming across a shepherd and his sheep. He fell into conversation with him and the man showed him the fold into which the sheep were led at night. It consisted of four walls, with a way in. Smith asked him, "This is where they go at night?" "Yes," said the shepherd, "and when they are in there, they are perfectly safe." "but there is no door," said Smith. "I am the door," said the shepherd. He was not a Christian man and wasn't speaking in the language of the New Testament. He was speaking from an Arab shepherd's viewpoint. Smith looked and him and asked, "What do you mean you are the door?" "When the light has gone," said the shepherd, "and all the sheep are inside, I lie in that open space, and no sheep ever goes out but across my body, and no wolf comes in unless he crosses my body; I am the door."
George Adam Smith
Our Master Makes the Difference
As I have moved among men and women from all strata of society as both a lay pastor and as a scientist I have become increasingly aware of one thing. It is the boss, the manager, the Master in people's lives who makes the difference in their destiny.
I have known some of the wealthiest men on this continent intimately, also some of the leading scientists and professional people. Despite their dazzling outward show of success, despite their affluence and their prestige, they remained poor in spirit, shriveled in soul, and unhappy in life. They were joyless people held in the iron grip and heartless ownership of the wrong master.
By way of contrast, I have numerous friends among relatively poor people-people who have known hardship, disaster and the struggle to stay afloat financially. But because they belong to Christ and have recognized Him as Lord and Master of their lives, their owner and manager, they are permeated by a deep, quiet, settled peace that is beautiful to behold.
It is indeed a delight to visit some of these humble homes where men and women are rich in spirit, generous in heart and large of soul. They radiate a serene confidence and quiet joy that surmounts all the tragedies of their time.
They are under God's care and they know it. They have entrusted themselves to Christ's control and found contentment.
Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Harper, p. 17
Love and Living for Others
Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, "When a chap is in love, he will go out in all kinds of weather to keep an appointment with his beloved. Love can be demanding; in fact, more demanding than law. It has its own imperatives. Think of a mother sitting by the bedside of a sick child through the night, impelled only by love. Nothing is too much trouble for love." Jesus makes it clear as he draws near the cross that his motivation is love. He is choosing to make this sacrifice. He is choosing to be faithful to what God has put before him.

There is a tale that in the first century a man came to Tertullian, a father in the early church. And in trying to justify some compromises the man had felt he had to make, commented, "I have to live, don't I?" to which Tertullian is reported to have said, "Do you?" The challenge is to focus away from self and to others, to ask where our real values are-survival only, or living as to make a difference.
Leo Tolstoy said, "The only certain happiness in life is to live for others." It is when we see the world with a larger level than self. It is when we become concerned with others that we find the depth of God's love for our lives.

Wiley Stephens, One Life to Give

I'm Not the Shepherd
A pastor was taking a group of parishioners on a tour of the Holy Land. He had just read them the parable of the good shepherd and was explaining to them that, as they continued their tour, they would see shepherds on the hillsides just as in Jesus' day. He wanted to impress the group, so he told them what every good pastor tells his people about shepherds. He described how, in the Holy Land, shepherds always lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers, always protecting the sheep by going ahead of them. He barely got the last word out when, sure enough, they rounded a corner and saw a man and his sheep on the hillside. There was only one problem: the man wasn't leading the sheep as the good pastor had said...