Fourth Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

Joke (Anonymous): 

Shepherds really get offended when you refer to them as “ewe” people!

On Good Shepherd Sunday, the obvious two questions are: 

  1. Who are the sheep in my flock? And,
  2. How can I be a good shepherd to them?

These questions are a good source of reflection for all of us this weekend. I encourage you to think about each of them this week. Obviously for me, as your pastor, I have to do a little soul searching along with some reflection. As your pastor for the last nine years, I realize that I might not fulfill all of your wishes of what a pastor might be, but I definitely try my best. As most of you know, I am also the Dean of the White Mountain Deanery, which includes supervision for the parishes of North Conway, Lincoln, Woodsville, and every parish north of there.

I realize my weaknesses are not being overly charismatic in my spirituality, and also I am not one for confrontation, so you won’t hear me preach fire and brimstone homilies. I try to stay away from talking about politics. I also realize that my preaching could be a lot different as I admire so many other preachers who are better than me. I don’t consider myself as a conservative or a liberal person when it comes to my faith and my liturgical style. I am also an ultra-introvert when it comes to my personality.

I realize my strengths include organization and order; management of the parish operations. Also, my willingness to try to talk with everyone and to get to know them. To simply hold the door and be a welcoming pastor. To have good judgment without being judgmental. To use my “Priestcraft”, as Bishop O’Neil told me to do, on my ordination day.  He said that the “Ministry of Presence” will be vital in my ministry. When tragedy strikes, and they call you to come — even though you might not have any answers — you must go, and simply be present to your people. The same is true in graduation or birthday parties, just being present goes a long way. Visitation to the hospital, the nursing homes, and the homebound, or that person you just haven’t seen in church for a while, or even visiting the children in the classroom, simply has to happen — and it does. I also find, I can get along with all the age brackets, simply by using a little humor every now and then.

I love the image of the one lost sheep, and Jesus leaving all of the others, simply to rescue the one who is paralyzed due to fear. That’s what sheep do — their legs go stiff and they simply can’t run away. Jesus picks up the paralyzed sheep and places it on his shoulders and carries it back to the flock. Once the fear-filled sheep has been returned to flock, its legs become un-paralyzed and it returns to normal activity.

Jesus knows his sheep, Jesus knows who we are, by name. He is our shepherd and we are his sheep. Jesus has laid down his life in order for us to be saved. Fear and death can no longer paralyze us, for the Good Shepherd continues to place us back into his flock.

So, think about those two questions this week:

  1. Who are the sheep in my flock?
  2. How can I be a good shepherd to them?

Let us, together, imitate the Good Shepherd of our lives!

Readings for Sunday, April 25, 2021