We are all familiar with the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me in green pastures.

Even if we know nothing about farming or sheep, we can find some comfort in that image. Shepherds lead sheep. In our Gospel, Jesus says, “I know mine and mine know Me.” He knows us by name. There is a relationship.

In our ever-increasing electronic age, that is so significant. We are so numbered, so regimented. We have drivers licenses, checkbooks, social security numbers, credit card codes. We are locked into our smart phones and computers. In many ways, we are reduced to numbers.

There is an old Talmudic riddle that asks, “Why did the Tower of Babel crumble?” The answer is, because the leaders were more interested in the work than the workers. When a brick would fall to the earth and break, the owners would be upset. They would bewail the loss of the brick. But when a worker fell to their death, they ignored it and pressed someone else to do the task.

So God destroyed the tower. Not because they were trying to reach Heaven, but because they were more interested in bricks than the bricklayers.

We should ask ourselves: How do we treat people who are different from us? Different religions, backgrounds, races? How do we treat them at school or work? I heard it once said, “As hard as we try, there is some prejudice in all of us.”

But the Jesus in our Gospel will have none of that. He knows His sheep and calls them by name. We matter to Him personally. In St. Luke’s Gospel, we read the story of the lost sheep. And the Shepherd who leaves the 99 safe ones to find the lost one. Every common sense person knows how foolish that is. To leave 99 sheep open to danger to rescue just one does not make any sense.

But some would say Christianity makes no sense. We are told to forgive our enemies, love those who hate us. Jesus tells us to love one another as I have loved you.

How has he loved us? He has loved us to death. To crucifixion. He tells us to go the extra mile. If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat. To follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, is not easy. But, most worthwhile things are difficult. That’s God’s way, not ours.

The Good Shepherd who calls us by name is a good figure to rally around, as we teach our children. Teach them not to be biased and prejudiced. The Good Shepherd is the one to turn to for our strength, to overcome our own prejudice. He lets it rain on the just and unjust; sends sunshine on the good and evil.

The Good Shepherd is the God of the Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. The God of rejects, lepers and thieves. The God of you, me and them. The God who knows us by name.

He says, “I know mine and mine know me.” The question is, do we?

Receive Fr. Bob’s Weekly Reflection in your inbox!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

4 thoughts on “Fr. Bob’s Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter

  1. I was born into a Scottish Presbyterian family, I was baptized in the local Scots church, I was confirmed there as well. As long as I can remember, the 23rd Psalm was present, repeated at any and all moments when reflection and sustaining strength was needed. I have sung it, read it in the Bible and kept it close to my heart. Its presence in my life is ever present. I thank God for giving me the chance to keep it close. My name is Ian and I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  2. This is the first time I received Fr. Bob’s reflection and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Graymoor as my cousin is buried there and we visited frequently.

  3. Thank you for your inspiring homilies each week. This is one of my favorites from the psalms as I’m old enough to remember saying the 23 rd psalm every day in school.

Leave a Reply

Please share a comment about this article using the form below. Be patient as we review all comments prior to publication. Required fields are marked *. To send the Friars a private message, click here. To submit a prayer request, click here.