The Good Shepherd

Dear Parishioners,

In the Gospel of John, there are seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. That is, our Lord says he is seven different things. They are, “I am...

  • the Bread of Life
  • the Light of the World
  • the Door
  • the Good Shepherd
  • the Resurrection and the Life
  • the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • the True Vine

We have in this Fourth Sunday of Easter the good shepherd saying. “Jesus said: ‘I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’” (Jn 10:11).

Some of these sayings are easier to reconcile and pray with than others. I particularly like the "Door" from John 10:9. Yes, it is because The Doors are one of my favorite bands, but also because the concept of entering through Jesus to get to heaven. I could go on, but let's focus on the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd is also one of my favorites, and it probably should be for every priest and especially every pastor. A priest is called to be, like Christ, a shepherd who serves his people. In fact, the name ‘pastor’ comes from the Latin pastore, which means shepherd.

The priest, like the shepherd from the time of Christ, has to accompany his people wherever they go. The area for grazing in the Holy Land was not that large, only about 35 miles, which meant flocks had to move around constantly so as not to overgraze. A shepherd therefore was constantly on the move. A priest, I feel, also should be constantly on the move. If one of his flock is in the hospital, he must go. If a number of his flock is in the gym for a basketball game, he must go. If a sheep is having a First Communion party, he must go (with pleasure!). If a sheep is having his head shave, so too must the priest...at least that's my philosophy.

If necessary, a priest has to lay down his life for his people. There are times when the shepherd has to risk himself to fend off an attacking wolf. There are plenty of stories of priests who have given their lives for their flock.

Being a shepherd and a pastor is a beautiful business. Christ did it first. He is the model Good Shepherd, so it's fulfilling to do what Jesus did. But it's also beautiful because it means being with you all, and you all are wonderful people.

God bless you and thank you for allowing me to be your shepherd.

Today, Sunday April 22nd, at 3:30pm in the church is the 3 Cs in Christ. Deacon Bob Ryan will be leading the presentation on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Again, please check out our book selection in the back of the church to help enhance your spiritual formation. A free copy of 33 Days to Morning Glory will be given away with each book!

On Wednesday at 6:30pm the second graders from school and RE will gather for a First Communion practice. Congratulations in advance to the children and their families. We are very excited to have you receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. Please pray for the children who will make their First Communion next Saturday, April 28th at 11am. Thank you to the teachers and catechists who have prepared the children.

I will be away again this week, Monday through Friday, at Mundelein Seminary for my next installment of training to be a spiritual director. The Archdiocese has asked me to undergo this program to be able to lead individuals, particularly seminarians, in the spiritual life.

Yours in Christ,
Father James

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