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He know us each by name.

From safari…..

We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song. We are half way through the Easter Season. Unlike Advent and Lent, no rose (pink) vestments today. This Sunday is often called Good Shepherd Sunday because the Gospels in all three cycles of the Lectionary speak of Christ as a shepherd. Today, last week, and the next two week many of our One in Christ members will be making their first communion. Congratulations to our First Communicants (included in this number are those who joined the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil). Receiving Christ’s Body and Blood, whether for the first time or the 10,000th time, is about belonging to the flock, being more deeply incorporated into the body of Christ, rather than “getting Jesus” for the first time. Eucharist is not something we “get” as much as it is something we do. “In the celebration of the Mass,” the U.S. bishops write, “we are shown what love truly is, and we receive grace that enables us to imitate the love that Christ shows us” (The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, 34). For St. Augustine: “If we receive the Eucharist worthily, we become what we receive” (Easter Sermon, 227).

Students at the parish school were learning about Jesus and his role as the Good Shepherd. They were given a month to memorize Psalm 23, which they would have to recite at a school assembly with the pastor and all the parents attending. When the big night came, the first student nervously stepped up to the microphone and began, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Then his mind went as blank as a wall. The parents waited while he struggled to remember the next line. Finally, in desperation, he said, “And that’s all I need to know.” At first there was silence, and then the applause began. The claps came slowly at first, finally building to full, thunderous ovation. If Jesus is the shepherd, we are the sheep. Perhaps the image of being sheep is not one we readily accept because we think of them being mindless, not so bright. Yet I invite us to ponder the image for a few moments. In Jesus time shepherds would bring their flock into a common pen at night. In this pen the sheep of the various flocks would mix together. In the morning the shepherd would go to the pen and call his sheep. The sheep would recognize the voice of its shepherd and follow along. The shepherd would direct the sheep to the pasture. In addition to finding food for the sheep, the shepherd, armed with only a staff, would also protect them from predators. As Jesus says, only one concerned for the sheep more than his pay check, will go to such extent.

At our baptisms our parents brought us to the watersm of salvation and there we were introduced to the voice of the Good Shepherd. We were committed to walking in the light of Jesus Christ. And yet, like sheep, we can easily go astray and get ourselves in trouble because we cherish our independence. Letting ourselves get misguided--- one more drink won’t matter; how fast can this car go, did you hear the latest rumor about so and so.

The good news is that Jesus knows us by name. As our shepherd he comes after us, calling us by name, inviting us back into the fold. He guides us to the green pastures of the Eucharist where we are nourished by word and sacrament.

The Lord is my shepherd --- there is nothing else I need to know.

Fr. Ron

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