2 Characteristics of the Good Shepherd: A homily for the 4th Sunday of Easter (A)

The “Good Shepherd” has 2 characteristics according to our gospel today —

  1. The good shepherd is recognizable: “My own know me.” The Good Shepherd is distinctive. The bad shepherd can yell until he is blue in the face but it will do no good. All the charm, skill, manipulation, etc … everything he has at his disposal…if he is a bad shepherd, the flock will continue to go wherever they want, even off the cliff. But a good shepherd, he knows his sheep by name. They trust his voice and they follow him.
  2. A good shepherd lays down his life. “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The good shepherd chooses to die because he loves the sheep more than his own life. He manifests divine love, which is stronger than death. He is selfless, God fearing, and filled with love.

The 2 characteristics then: 1) The good shepherd is recognizable and 2) he lays down his life for the sheep

These two things go together in this way:  The good shepherd is recognizable BECAUSE he lays down his life

Ask anybody who’s been to an ordination, the most powerful part is when the new priest lies down in prostration, an act of giving one’s life over to Jesus

He doesn’t do it just for himself. He does it for the sheep — the many folks he knows and loves and the nameless, faceless folks he will be Christ to the course of his life

The more a priest has TRULY DONE THIS, TRULY HANDED OVER HIS LIFE, the more recognizable the Good Shepherd is in him.  Think of that priest who baptized you, gave you first communion, etc….every priest is a gift from the heart of Christ“….FR. CHARLIE….

Why did the GOOD SHEPHERD come to us, lay down his life for us?  It’s because he knew WHERE THE SHEEP SHOULD BE GOING….

The image of the Good shepherd isn’t about corralling the sheep into a pen or keeping them trapped in a fence….it’s about LEADING THEM TO SAFETY, TO LIFE!!!!!

Sometimes the sheep make it easy. Sometimes they fight back.

BUT SHEPHERDS ARE NEEDED!!!  Those men who leave everything behind to dedicate themselves completely to the Christian community, following the example of the Good Shepherd. In the priesthood, the sacramental continuation of the Good Shepherd’s love is at stake.  FR PAUL 66 YR ANNIVERSARY TMRW!

Now just in case you don’t so much like the idea of being a sheep, have trust and faith in this good news: the sheep who faithfully follows the Good Shepherd becomes a shepherd himself. St Peter tells us in the second reading “Jesus has left you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” St John says “We shall become like him”

We could say, our journey in following Jesus Christ is a journey into becoming Jesus Christ 

Because following is never enough for Jesus…he says REMAIN IN ME and I WILL REMAIN IN YOU

Then all of us are charged — in a special way, the priest — with leading humanity into the promised land, into the gate, into life



If you have any influence on a young man, help him to consider the priesthood. God might be calling that young man — and he might want to use YOU to help him to hear the call.  Fr Chase video

O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep Thy priests within the  shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may touch them.  Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Thy Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unworldly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.
Let Thy Holy Love surround them from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and their everlasting crown hereafter.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us: obtain for us numerous and holy priests.