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Homily by Fr. Paul Plante

4th Sunday of Easter

Year B

April 29, 2012

Scriptural Reference: John 10:11-18

     Have you wondered for whom or for what important cause you would die for? It might be something we would prefer never having to think about – a choice – my life or the life of another – that one would never have to make.

     We all know however how sincere people are when they are totally dedicated to a sickly child, a spouse needing a lot of care; how sincere a parent is when faced with the death of a child states that he or she would have preferred being the one to die rather than losing a child.

     I have known of soldiers dying in combat – where earlier letters were assuring loved ones that if the worst were to happen, it was something they were willing to accept for the greater good.

     We often read about people spontaneously endangering their own lives to save a person in peril.

     It is about such extreme love and care for others, for all of us actually, that Jesus makes use of a wonderful symbol – the Good Shepherd. It is not just a beautiful backlit scene of a countryside with a shepherd leading a flock of sheep to green pastures and fresh water. It is the reality of protecting those in one’s care from danger to the point of even giving one’s life so that the other might be safe.

     Hopefully we automatically make the connection with Jesus on the cross – dying – giving up his life that we might have life. And if Jesus is the Master and we are the disciples, whatever we see in Jesus – some of that goodness, some of that caring, some of that generosity, some of that readiness to give up our lives has to be in every one of us.

     I do not doubt that some of the examples I have already mentioned – spouses, parents, people on the battlefield, heroes in unforeseen perilous situations – all of these point towards the Good Shepherd – the needs of others over and above our needs.

     I am sure there are situations in all of our lives that call us to be like Jesus, the Good Shepherd – parents who patiently and prayerfully wait for a child to get help for an addiction or to turn away from a sinful and destructive life-style; we as a Church hoping for the return to the practice of the faith as many have drifted away; our concern as a Church that our parishes are not getting all the services they need due to lack of vocations to the priesthood or religious life; wanting to reach out in some way or other to children and teens facing the stress of today’s issues due to breakdown of the family, exposure to all sorts of evils in the media, unrealistic expectations of society, the hurt of being left out or even persecuted by bullies; and the reassurance we all need when there are so many question marks as to what the future will bring.

     There are many, many ways for us to become like Jesus, the Good Shepherd for those in greater need – the reassuring presence we all need.

     But on this Sunday, may we have a special prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. May those called and considering such a vocation see how much good they could do in our Church in this special way of being like Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

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