Updated: May 2, 2020
Here is the homily from Fr. Bausch:
Homily for 4 Easter: Good Shepherd Sunday
May 3, 2020
In the name of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
On each year of our Liturgical calendar, we read from John 10 on the 4th Sunday of Easter. In Year A, we read vss. 1-10. In the middle of this reading, we see two statements which together describe the character of our relationship with Jesus Christ: he calls his own by name, and we know his voice. Today we will look at some of what these phrases reveal and consider some ways in which we can live out this relationship under our current physical isolation.
In John 10:3 we read, “he calls his own sheep by name”. In the ancient world, names were windows into the persons who bore them; a person’s name revealed, in significant ways, who the person was. I can recall growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, that children were not to address adults by their first names. This was understood as “overly familiar”, a violation of social norms in which the disclosure of one’s name was an invitation to a deeper intimacy. We need to appreciate this history in order to fully understand what it means to be called by name by Jesus.
In the history of the Old Testament, persons were largely identified by tribe or race rather than by name until the Exile in the 500s. It was only after the loss of the “Holy Land” and destruction of the Temple that we see the development of the importance of the individual. In chapter 18, the prophet Ezekiel states that from now on, judgment will be upon individuals; in chapter 31, the prophet Jeremiah reveals the coming “New Covenant”, which will be written on each person’s heart rather on something external like tablets of stone. To be called by name by Jesus the Good Shepherd means that he knows us each deeply. In John 10:14-15 we hear Jesus say, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” He is the One we can trust completely.
In John 10:3-4, we read, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” This reveals the basic way the we recognize his voice: he calls us by name. As we have seen, this tells us that he knows us deeply, and can be trusted. When I was in college, before I became a praying Christian, I remember receiving a phone from a student who claimed to know my deepest need, and told me something of the Gospel. However, I didn’t listen too well, mainly because he had not earned my trust: he mispronounced my name, not even bothering to ask if he had gotten it right! How could he presume to know me deeply if he didn’t even on the surface?
Those who are not faithful in little things will not likely be given bigger things (see Luke 16).
As we grow in Christ, we learn more and more to “hear his voice” in various ways. We hear him in the Church, in our worship, the Scriptures, and the voices of our brothers and sisters in our fellowship. We learn in our sharing our faith intimately, with a priest, a brother or sister in Christ. We learn in study and prayer, and in service. The more we listen in trust, the humbler we become, as we see how often we are not truly listening! This describes the adventure of growing in Christ, a process which will not likely be completed in this earthly life.
How are we to attempt to listen to Christ more deeply and follow more actively at this time?
Basically, I suggest that we continue with the things we’ve been contemplating so far this season-
1. reflective prayer and meditating,
2. offering of activities to God’s glory and to be shared with him,
3. reaching out to others,
4. study and Spiritual Communion.
The disciplines of Christian living don’t actually change, but, as we strive to follow God’s voice more deliberately, we may see his light shine on areas we haven’t yet considered.
So, I suggest that as we talk with one another this coming week, we bring this topic up. Let’s share what we have each been “hearing”, how we are attempting to “redeem the time”. Something as simple as what one of you is doing to spend the time may be the means of Jesus communicating to another!
COLLECT for GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY
O God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd of your people: Grant that, when we hear his voice, we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen