Fr Vincent's reflections on Good Shepard Sunday

“Good Shepard” Sunday – Jesus makes the simple statement: “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” This is our opportunity to reflect on how
well we listen to the voice of Jesus.


Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on Good Shepard Sunday


Read the reflections:


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.      R/. Amen.

The Grace and Peace of our
Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
be with you all.                                                                                      R/. And with your spirit.

On this “Good Shepherd” Sunday, let us begin with the Opening Prayer from today’s Mass.

Let us pray:

Almighty ever-living God,
lead us to a share in the joys of heaven,
so that the humble flock may reach
where the brave Shepherd has gone before.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.                                                         R/. Amen.

If you took part in last Sunday’s prayer and reflection, you should already have your Bible with you. Have you been reading from the Acts of the Apostles as I recommended? If you don’t have your Bible, pause this video – you know I mean it – to retrieve your Bible. I’m not going anywhere.
Please follow along – John 10:1-10 – and you can sit comfortable while we read. As I said before, if the words in your Bible are somewhat different, still follow along, please.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.

Jesus said:
    “Amen, amen, I say to you,
    whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
    but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
    as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
    he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
    because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
    they will run away from him,
    because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
    the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
    I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
    but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
    and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
    I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

The Gospel of the Lord.                                                                         R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is always “Good Shepherd” Sunday. Jesus referred to himself as a shepherd many times in his preaching and story telling. He is recalling the Prophet Isaiah’s regular use of the shepherd image for God. So Jesus is clearly indicating that he is the fulfillment of
Isaiah’s teaching about God as the Shepherd. Jesus is that physical presence of God to shepherd is People.

We have heard the parables, and we have heard Jesus’ preaching. So the simple question for me and you is: Do I listen and follow the Good Shepherd? Or, do I follow the voice (maybe voices) of a stranger and stray from the path on which the shepherd seeks to lead me?
I presume we would all want to say: “I listen to Jesus and do whatever Jesus expects me to do.” Yet, if I’m honest with myself, I must admit that those other worldly voices – TV, internet, reading material, etc. – can be rather distracting and even down-right attractive, to the point where I stop
paying attention to Jesus. Can you be honest with yourself? I tell myself something like: “Jesus loves me and He’ll forgive me. I can always catch up later, so ignoring my prayer or putting it off is no big deal.” Then, when I decide I’m ready to catch up, Jesus is a lot further down the path than
I expected, and asking for forgiveness is not as easy because I’ve been off the path a lot longer than I intended.

And, if I’m truly honest – this is just how the distractions of normal life go. But with this whole coronavirus business and the “stay at home” order that has disrupted my normal life and regular schedule of Church and other activities, there are more “voices” and more distractions and more
excuses than ever. You would think that with seemingly more time on my hands, I would immediately make more time for Jesus, and I tried. But fallen human nature, being what it is – weak – I get bored more easily and look for new distractions not to think about all these changes
around me. The sad truth: it has become easier to follow other voices because life is not normal now. So, be honest – am I the only person who wanted to pray more and be more spiritual but find myself having trouble keeping up with my usual schedule? I can’t see you watching, but I imagine
there are some nodding heads right now!

So, here is a simple game plan for me and you, if you need it, to recommit ourselves to the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd. First, most of you, if not all of you, have a Smart Phone of some sort. There’s very likely this clock on your phone with an alarm feature, right? On mine I have
about 8 fixed alarm times set during the course of the day that remind me to stop and pray. So, according to what you can do, set at least 3 times each day with prayer alarms. One should be for regular daily Bible reading. (Remember, I asked you to do the Acts of the Apostles during this
Easter Season.) One should be for a devotional prayer time that you enjoy – Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, etc. One should be for quiet time to listen to Jesus, where we intentionally remove the other voices and just ask Jesus: “What do you need to tell me today? Help me to listen to your
voice and only your voice.” For this prayer period, you need to use your timer setting. I have mine set to 20 minutes, so when I start this “listening” prayer time, I tap that button, then forget clock watching or thinking about anything else. It will be there when I’m done. I suggest you start with
a 10 minute timer. It will likely take 3 minutes before you mind calms down enough to begin to listen. During this time, do your best not to talk to Jesus, but to be still and listen. It might take a week or more of making this quiet time before your mind becomes attuned to Jesus. We get
impatient and speak for Jesus way too often, so try not to fall into that pattern.

OK, just a practical reminder that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we need to listen to his voice, most likely more often and better than we normally or currently do. And I’ve tried to give you a simple and straight-forward way to make that time daily – start small with 3 times each day. Be
consistent with when you pray (set an alarm) so you get into the pattern/habit. Do the same activity at the same time – Scripture, Devotional, Listen – so it becomes easier as the habit develops. Then you will be able to add more times and longer periods of prayer. Finally, you will be able to
say that Jesus is the only voice you hear and follow and you will be able to run away from those stranger voices of this world.

God bless you all.

Before the final blessing, as you know, Governor Edwards, on Monday, April 27th, extended the “stay at home” order until Friday, May 15th, at least. This video is being recorded on Thursday, April 30th, and I do not know yet what directions Bishop Duca will give for the Diocese of Baton
Rouge, so I cannot tell anyone what the weekend of May 16/17 will be like. Please remember to check the Parish Website daily for updates – be sure to look at the date on the update as well because things come out at different times and can change from moment to moment.

And now, I would like to offer you the Easter Blessing:

May God, who by the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son
was pleased to confer on you
the gift of redemption and of adoption
give you gladness by his blessing.                                                         R/. Amen.

May he, by whose redeeming work
you have received the gift of everlasting freedom,
make you heirs to an eternal inheritance.                                              R/. Amen.

And may you, who have already risen with Christ
in Baptism through faith,
by living in a right manner on this earth,
be united with him in the homeland of heaven.                                     R/. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, a and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever.                                 R/. Amen.

Live in the peace of Christ, Alleluia, Alleluia!                                   

R/. Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia!