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The Author

Contents: Volume 2 - Fourth Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday April 22, 2018







1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. – (Your reflection can be here!)





Easter 4 B

I memorized today's Gospel selection from John 10 just before my First Holy Communion a LONG time ago! I have always loved pictures of the Good Shepherd as the "rescuer" of those who have gone astray. I still visualize the Good Shepherd when I think about Jesus's presence in my life even today, always caring for me.

Now it was a very long time ago, but I am not sure that memorization task did not end with "there will be one flock and one shepherd". I am intrigued by the newer concept that follows, about Jesus's power, his will, to take up his life and lay it down. Jesus says that those actions are "why the Father loves me".

Well, I sat with that awhile until it sunk in about the abundant ramifications of Jesus's good choices. As my 9 year old granddaughter told me, Jesus chose to save us rather than himself on Calvary. The Father was mighty pleased with Jesus and, by extension, is with us, the followers of Jesus, when we exercise our free will to put others before ourselves.

Although there are many who still die for the Faith in our times, most of us "just" sacrifice part of ourselves for others these days. These sacrifices, either small kindnesses or long term choices, pale in comparison to Jesus's and those of martyrs. Their ramifications can be on-going and substantial, nonetheless. What "good shepherds" might fit into that category in your life?

My list is pretty long. It includes clergy and religious ministers (lay and vowed) of every faith and gender, grandparents and parents, teachers, first responders, those who work odd hours and jobs so the rest of us can have food in our stores, gas at the gas pumps, and even merchandise available on web sites etc. whenever we want it, and, oh yes, ............ I could go on and so could you.

If you are a caretaker of any kind, you, too, have a special place on God's list. Remember that doing the will of the Father is the link to Jesus. It can also be a needed oasis from the inevitable wear and tear of continual caring for others.

Although the teacher/caretaker who insisted on the memorization of this selection has probably long left this world for her heavenly reward, the ramifications of her doing the will of the Father are still expanding from the drop of faith she planted in me to the thoughts of those who will read or hear about it right now. We are part of a wonderful the Legacy of the Good Shepherd. Thanks be to God!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Fourth Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday April 22, 2018

Acts 4:8-12; Responsorial Psalm 118; 1st John 3:1-2; Gospel Acclamation John 10:14; John 10:11-18

On this "Good Shepherd" Sunday we would expect Psalm 23 to be the People’s response to the first reading from Acts. That’s the psalm that begins with, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." That psalm is a favorite of everyone as it speaks about the Lord guiding our paths, protecting us as we walk through dark valleys and on slippery mountain paths. It takes us home to a banquet prepared for us. Instead, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, we are assigned psalm 118, which speaks about a stone which professional builders reject but in contradiction to human wisdom becomes the corner stone for a great building. This is confusing. Did the liturgy planners at the Vatican make a mistake? Why, in the glorious bright light of Easter do we focus our attention on the rejection of Jesus? And why a cornerstone?

Our image of Jesus as a shepherd is softened from the image of an actual shepherd. We would be comfortable inviting this shepherd into our living rooms. The image of Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulders is not something that comes from an overly positive liberal view of God’s work with us. A statue of Jesus and the lamb is found in the catacombs from the first century of Christianity. The Christians worshipped in the catacombs at that time because of the persecutions which called many to a bloody martyrdom. Why would the experience of these first Christians lead them to think of the gentle and caring Good Shepherd?

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we witness Peter who once had vehemently denied he even knew Jesus standing firm against the leaders of the temple. They had gone to the temple to worship according to their tradition. The cripple they encountered had no physical ability to earn a living for himself. He had to depend hand-outs. What a terrible and humbling situation for this man! What sort of self-dignity could have been his? He could make no contribution to society and so had no place there. He needed to be saved from a condition over which he had no control. In this scene from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter responds to the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. The criticism leveled against Peter was that he had cured this unfortunate man in the name of Jesus. We must stand back just a bit and realize Peter’s critics totally overlooked the wonderful thing that had happened to this cripple. Instead they looked at their own bias and prejudice and decided this man should not have been made whole. This leadership was more interested in rules and regulations. Well, that’s not really the case. They were most interested in protecting their status and their power over the people. The message for us in this story is that the mercy and compassion of God for all people – especially for those with no standing in society or its economic foundation – is what God is. This revelation through the very Son of God whom they had put to death is contrary to the usual and customary self-serving attitudes of leadership. They needed the partisan compliance with rules and policies in order to maintain their control and support the building of their own wealth. The stone that is the revelation of God through the Incarnate Son is rejected. Peter quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures. The stone the builders of society and economies have rejected becomes the cornerstone of human life.

Is not this rejection by the leaders of the Jews in 33 A.D. still operative in our time and place? Why do we expect our political, economic, and social leadership to serve the common good of all persons? Is this not a rejection of the stone that is foundational to followers of Jesus of Nazareth? We Christians live in the world and are continually seduced by its energy, its power, its pursuit of power, wealth, and prestige. We live at a time when events in distant lands are made visible to us in seconds. We see and experience not only the pain and suffering of persons in our neighborhood but also those of children, women and men in Syria, in the Sudan, in India, in Honduras and El Salvador, and in the struggling nations of Africa. The common good that is the foundation stone of Christianity is often forgotten as the world swirls and contends within itself around us, drawing us into its maelstrom. The foundation on which we build our lives is the Christ. His words and his works are the teaching example of how to live as children of God. Let no power robs us of its energy and truth!

We are truly children of God as we hear in the second reading from the Apostle John. Our ears must listen to this and our hearts must be stirred by John’s affirmation. We are truly children of God. Every parent who hears these words can relate to how God watches over us. Any parent worth his/her salt watches and reaches out to guide and protect. But not only this attitude! Every parent encourages growth in wisdom, age, and grace for their child. The most successful parent leads his/her child to their potential. But a parent who views potential as only a matter of power, wealth, or prestige condemns that child to a life of frustration, anger, and violence. What we are as persons is more than what we can possess, control, or appear. That is the truth of Jesus on the Cross. In what looked like abject failure and defeat was in fact a victory that surpasses every victory. He conquered death itself and his resurrection is proof positive of that victory. To be a child of God means to find ourselves there our meaning, our hope, our joy, and most of all our peace. This acceptance of God as our "Dad" is the foundation stone of how we live that incredible gift that is life itself.

As if to confirm that we are children of God, that God is the foundation stone of human life, we listen to the message found only in John’s Gospel. Jesus claims he is the Good Shepherd. That story is one we should share repeatedly with our children. In our telling of that story to our children, we are in effect embracing our faith and our hope. As psalm 23 insists: "even though we walk through the dark valley, we are not afraid. For he is with us with his rod and his staff. These give us courage and hope that we will arrive at the banquet laid out for those who complete their journey."

There is so much evil in the world. There is so much that would knock us off the narrow road of love of God and love of neighbor as our sisters and brothers. And our neighbors are all the peoples of the world. We cannot hold hate in our hearts for any of them. We cannot believe that violence is the answer to conflict. If the Son of God was born a man and grew as we all do in wisdom, age, and grace, then humanity is important to the Creator. We must rethink our attitudes, our judgement that others are our enemies. We must believe that the common good of all persons in the world is the foundation of our relationships. They are in effect the children of God. And we must believe that God the creator of all loves all no matter what tradition, no matter the color of their skin, no matter the language they use to communicate, no matter their wealth, no matter their faith. If anyone thinks that this Shepherd of ours is asleep in our time, then we must rethink and re-experience our daily living. God allows us freedom to choose. God gives us the responsibility to bring all of creation into completion and fulfillment of the dream God had as he created all things. In our living we will be persecuted. Our foundation stone is the Christ and not the lifeless idols of man-made images.

The building being built on the cornerstone which was rejected by religious leadership is a sheltering place for us individually. But it is not just about me. It extends coverage to the entire human race. If we look at the readings from the perspective of our Responsorial Psalm, we are lead to see ourselves as part of the building that is being built on the cornerstone – the stone rejected by the Chief Priests and Sanhedrin and the civil government represented by Pilate. Every stone in this building is important. Each of us has a place; each of us has a role to play in this edifice constructed by the Good Shepherd. That is the way laid out for us by the Good Shepherd. That is the continuing presence of the Shepherd who cares for his flock. The "other sheep that do not belong to this fold" are meant by John the Evangelist to include the rest of humanity. The presence of Jesus as guide and Shepherd is not an exclusive club. His flock includes everyone.

The way of Jesus is not smooth. It is often filled with pain and suffering because of evil chosen by mankind and by the incompleteness of nature. The truth of the matter is that Jesus is present with us even now. He is present to us as individuals but not just as individuals. We are part of the flock that follows him. He knows his sheep and they know him. This is not a knowledge of recognition only. It is a knowledge of who we are; it is an individual intimate knowledge of our inner persons. And it is a knowledge of the Shepherd that continually grows within us.

The Responsorial Psalm speaks of Jesus as the corner stone. If he is the cornerstone, then we are the living stones that make up the building that is the City of God. Every person is needed to build that city. Often the activities of our parishes are operated by a few persons. They are those in charge. Or the pastor works with a few selected persons who belong to his inner circle. How very contrary to our readings this Sunday. The leadership of a parish community, of flocks of sheep must find a place at the table for everyone. Each person has a role to fulfill. There can be no exclusion of any sheep or lamb. If a parish community fails to accept and welcome anyone as one of the Shepherd’s sheep, it abandons that person to the wolves and beasts of prey trailing the flock. If we choose to follow our Good Shepherd, we will choose to know and accept all others in his flock. This is not easy. This is not without pain. This is why the statue of the Good Shepherd was found in the catacombs where Christians worshipped and gathered in solidarity.

This is how we grow: that we hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow his ways. In so doing we grow in wisdom, age, and grace and discover our place in the Community that is the building made of living stones. May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller






Mike and Yvonne, so this story goes, were 85 years old and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they carefully watched their pennies. Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to Yvonne's insistence for the last decade on healthy foods and exercise. One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a holiday and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.

They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen. A maid could be seen hanging up their favourite clothes in the dressing-room. They gasped in astonishment when Peter said, 'Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.'

Mike asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. 'Why, nothing,' Peter replied, 'remember, this is your reward in Heaven.' Mike looked out the window and there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any built on Earth. 'What are the greens fees?' grumbled Mike. 'This is heaven,' Peter replied. 'You can play for free, every day.'

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch. 'Don't even ask,' said Peter to Mike. ‘This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.' Mike looked around and nervously asked Yvonne 'Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?' 'That's the best part,' Peter replied. 'You can eat and drink as much as you like and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!'

'No gym for a work- out?' asked Mike. 'Not unless you want to,' came the answer. 'No testing my sugar or blood pressure or anything?' 'Never again!’ said Peter.

So Mike glared at Yvonne across the table and said, 'You and your crummy Bran Flakes. We could have been here ten years ago!'

As time goes by, we hear more and more reports from people who have almost died, people, in fact, who have been 'clinically dead'. In all the stories from those who have come back to life, we find very similar details. Thus they speak of leaving their bodies behind. They speak of going through something like a dark tunnel with a light at the far end. A light like the sun, though it neither blinds nor burns, a light which keeps growing brighter. As they move closer to the light, their whole life, like a short film, begins to flash before them. They see the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

Looking at their lives in those short flashes, they sense that the light before them is personal, is somebody rather than some thing. Somebody who views the film with them. Somebody who approves their generous and unselfish actions, but not their mean and selfish ones. Somebody, however, who understands and interprets all the components of their lives as a necessary learning process.

All say that the light - some call it Christ, some call it God, some call it light - is kind and protective, humorous and understanding, forgiving and fulfilling. When they come out of all this, they are changed people, better people, new people.

These reports of 'near-death' experiences are interesting, even fascinating and inspiring. Yet we do not really need them to know what will happen to us. We rely rather on the voice of Christ our Good Shepherd who speaks to us in today's scripture readings. He communicates all that friends and followers of Jesus need to know about their destiny.

As the Good Shepherd puts it in the gospel he has ‘concern for his sheep’. So much so that he states not once but three times, that he ‘lays down his life for his sheep’. He is the one, as Peter comments in our First Reading, ‘whom God raised from the dead...’, and ‘the only one by [whose] name we can be saved’.

We may be sure, then, that our risen Good Shepherd, will keep bringing us to green pastures and a magnificent banquet, and that the light of his love will keep shining on us and showing us the way to live. In fact, all who now and to the end listen to his voice and stay together in his sheepfold, will find themselves safe, renewed, changed and transformed in his company.

So we can and will declare with the strongest conviction and the most heart-felt hope, those words from our Creed: 'I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. AMEN.'

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>









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