Fourth Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday
In Jewish belief, God is the Shepherd of his people. Those chosen for leadership, either as kings or priests, act in the name and person of God. They are to see to the welfare and holiness of the people to whom God is bound in a covenant of love and mercy.
Jesus often used the imagery of shepherds and sheep to show his care for others. He, the Good Shepherd, develops the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. The imagery is old, but the message is still relevant. By our trust in Jesus, our relationship with him is alive and personal, like the love that unites Jesus himself with the Father. Our whole faith is founded on God’s love and faithfulness.
Christ is our Good Shepherd. The evangelists affirm this tender image of our Savior. But what does a shepherd do? Today’s gospel from St. John answers this question succinctly. It tells us that a shepherd
leads the sheep in
leads them out
. Both of these actions are required if we are to have a healthy relationship with Christ.
At night, the shepherd leads the sheep in, through the gate, into the enclosure of the sheepfold. He leads them in because nighttime is dangerous. Under cover of darkness, wolves prowl about looking for food; thieves seek ways of entering the sheepfold to steal or harm the animals.
So, leading the sheep in is to protect them, to offer them comfort and security. We need to trust that Christ is present to offer us protection and comfort in the dangerous times of our lives, including this pandemic the world is presently experiencing. In times of turmoil, conflict, sickness, and hardship, we need wisdom and courage. It is in these moments, especially, that we come to understand that we are not wandering around in the dark alone. Christ has gathered us in, to experience the security of his presence. He is watching us and guarding us through the night.
But our relationship with the Lord is not just about security and comfort. The shepherd also leads the sheep out: out of the sheepfold into the world, out to do his work. Christ asks us to serve others. He calls us to be the best persons that we can be. He leads us out to build his kingdom, to oppose injustice and oppression and to help those who are in need.
Christ, our Good Shepherd, both leads us in and leads us out. He comforts us and challenges us. He gives us security and calls us to serve. These two dynamics are essential parts of being a disciple. They are also interrelated because one suffers if the other is absent.
If we begin to think that our relationship with Christ is merely about our security and comfort, it can easily become selfish. We can begin to focus more and more on ourselves, on our wants, our fears, our insecurities, and our needs.
When this tendency begins to take hold, then we must allow our Shepherd to lead us out, out of our preoccupation with self, out into service of others. But on the other hand, if we begin to think that our relationship with Christ is merely about doing his work, we can easily become exhausted. We give and give to our family, our friends, our community until there is nothing left. When this begins to happen, we must allow our Shepherd to lead us in, into the security of his presence, into the comfort of his love. We must take time to withdraw, to pray, and to be thankful for what we have received, so that we can find the energy to serve again.
Christ, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls, leads us in and leads us out. We should let him. We embrace his presence and his care, and we drink in his love. Then we can go out to be his presence in the world.
no public Masses
at St. Joseph Downtown as we continue to live and pray in a way that keeps each other safe and healthy. Call the Parish Office (210 227-0126) to reserve a place at Mass when offered. Only ten people may attend, and social distancing is observed.
video of Sunday Mass at St. Joseph
is posted on YouTube at the St. Joseph Church Downtown Media page starting this weekend. We thank the Strelchun Family and tech-savvy John Francis for filming and editing the video so beautifully. Go to
Reconciliation (Confession) is available Monday through Saturday from 9:00-2:00 in the Parish Office, 623 East Commerce Street. Please ring the doorbell; we will be with you shortly.
In a spirit of caring for each other in these difficult days, we encourage you to support efforts to feed our neighbors in need via Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and local food banks.
Thank you for supporting St. Joseph Downtown through our parish website (
) or Give Central (
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25
Anthony Schueller SSS
on Sunday, May 3 at 12:13AM