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Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

Saint John Baptist de LaSalle/Saint Stephen April 21, 2024

Many of you have heard me tell you that I once owned a sheep, and that I gave her the name Patricia. I was in the seminary at the time, in a Benedictine community, called Glastonbury Monastery, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.

They had a large flock of sheep, many chickens, and many ducks, and I spent as much time as I was allowed helping on the farm. In the spring, when most of the sheep gave birth, I was present when this little lamb was stuck in the birth canal of her mother, and I assisted in pulling it free.

Moments later, it was frolicking through the green field, bounding in the dandelions, and seemingly oblivious to the situation it had been stuck in just moments before, and the rookie shepherd who had just saved its life.

I often think of this little lamb when the image of Jesus as a shepherd arises, as it does in today's Gospel, when Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Lambs know their mother’s bleating as soon as they are born, just as their mothers know the bleating their lamb makes.

However, it takes time for a lamb or a sheep to hear, recognize, and follow a shepherd. It’s a learned behavior, it is not an instinct, learning to recognize one’s shepherd takes time. As a modern-day member of Jesus’ flock, I have faith that my Shepherd knows me, knows all that I am, my good qualities and my flaws. I also know that I am still learning to follow God.

Sometimes I forget to listen to God’s voice. Other times I hear it and ignore it. Sometimes I find myself like that little lamb, frolicking about the earth, totally oblivious to the Shepherd who, repeatedly, pulls me out of darkness and sets me free, pushing me toward a new life. But I also know that even as I wander, I will not be lost for good. I take heart in the knowledge that, for all my mistakes, “no one can take me out of God’s hands.”

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