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4/12/2016 2:34:00 PM
Be attentive to the needs of others

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52
Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
John 10:27-30

When I was a child, I took “random acts of kindness” for granted. In fact, we didn’t even have a name for them. They were simply part of life. Then, Sister Regina told us that we should pray for all those whose kind deeds toward us went unnoticed. Suddenly, I noticed the many kindnesses I once took for granted. I suppose I have always been surrounded by kind people because I quickly again accepted their goodness without thought.  As I grow older and more introspective, I realize that my life has been profoundly affected by seemingly small and anonymous acts of goodness.

The Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Easter is always about the Good Shepherd and his sheep. The sheep are very like us. They always seem to take the goodness of the shepherd for granted. They follow without thinking and do not notice when they have been led to the right path. Neither do they take heed of any danger they avoid.

This same caring relationship is one that we ought to have with one another. This is the pastoral mission of the People of God, a relationship modeled on the Lord’s loving care for each person.  

Being a shepherd is not an eight-hour-a-day job. Neither is being a Christian. Like shepherds, Christians must be attentive to the needs of others.  Who in our parish is suffering and in need of care?  Who is in danger of straying? Who has already walked away from the flock?  We are continually called to reach out to the alienated and disenfranchised, to be attentive to those who have left the Church.  At the same time, we are called to be aware of those who are on the fringes of the flock.

At this liturgy, we rejoice in being part of Christ’s flock.  We are challenged to become shepherds to one another.  We are both sheep and shepherds, living with the tension of leading and being led.
There are those who will neither follow nor be led to the Good Shepherd.  We do not have the power to be shepherds all alone.  We need a community to accomplish the work of Christ in the world today.  This is the tone of all recent Church documents.

At the Eucharist, we praise the Lord for his tender care of us. At the same time, we promise to do for others what the Lord has done for us.  In the safe “enclosure” of the celebration, that is not difficult.  In the open pastures of the world, it is all too easy to forget who the real Shepherd is and to stray from the path.  Happily, the Lord is always ready and waiting and seeking and searching for his sheep so he can lead us to the living waters.

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