Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter (C)

I remember once having traveled to Romania with some Romanian friends, whom I was studying and living with in Rome.  They wanted to show me their beautiful county.  It was a cold night, and we were crossing the mountains into Moldavia.  It was more than cold – it was snowing, freezing cold – and in the distance in the snow-filled fields we could see a faint light.  That light grew in intensity as we got closer until finally, we could see two shepherds huddled in the snow with their sheep.  The shepherds were dressed in sheep’s wool clothing from head to foot and were preparing to spend the night in the fields with their sheep.  We stopped to talk with them, and they introduced their sheep.  They offered us some fresh sheep’s cheese and we ate it willingly.  We talked about their life with their sheep, and they told us how they would leave their families to travel with their sheep in the harsher weather to ensure that they were looked after and cared for.  The sheep were their livelihood.  

They asked about Australia, and I told them that here in Australia we had sheep too.  I explained to them about the large sheep stations that Australians run and the need to muster the sheep in for shearing around shearing time, having previously branded them to be sure as to whose belong to whom.  “They would be wild sheep,” they exclaimed.  “Who would look after them and know their names?”  No-one, I thought.  And then for the first time I understood what Jesus meant when he said I am the good shepherd.  I know them and they follow me.

This is the feast that we celebrate today.  We celebrate the fact that the God we believe in walks with us and accompanies us along the way.  Bedding down with us each day as the shepherd does with his sheep.  The Eucharist is the most profound, intimate, and explicit way in which we experience this because in this Eucharistic meal we share in the body of Christ.  We take and eat, we take and drink, and we are brought into an even closer relationship with the God who travels with us.  As we eat this bread and drink this cup we grow in likeness to the Shepherd who walks with us throughout our lives.

As we eat, we learn to be those who live for others.  As we eat, we learn to be those who live in deep appreciation for the world around us.  As we eat, we know what it is like to be fed, to be nourished and we are moved to feed and nourish others.  As we eat, we are drawn into deeper communion with one another here and in solidarity with the whole of humanity.

In each Eucharist we are being drawn into a journey of life in which the God of life accompanies us, just like a shepherd accompanies his sheep.  Each Sunday we receive the bread of life.  Let’s pray that we will eat it many times and keep discovering the meaning of this wonderful gift and grow in greater awareness of what it means to be loved by the Good Shepherd. 

Fr Brendan Reed




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Essential reading for everyone. Thank you, Fr Brendan.

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