This week I will attempt to establish a common thread running through all three readings, and the Psalm.

ACTS 4: 8 – 12

PSALM 117 (OR 116)

1 JOHN 3: 1 – 2

JOHN 10: 11 – 18

Traditionally, this Sunday is known as GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY on which much is made of the call the vocational call to priesthood, diaconate, and religious life. I am not going down that road. Of course, it needs to be faced that the Church is not short of vocations. This would be an admission that the good God is not, as promised, taking care of his Church. There are plenty of vocations. What we are short of are (i) people who respond to the call, and (ii) leaders with courage to reappraise the overall situation of ministers and ministry. We have yet to harness the powerhouse of untrained and untapped lay (men AND women) ministry which lies dormant in the undergrowth of the ecclesiastical community. In addition, the laity need to address their sometimes neurotic obsession with a priest orientated approach. I have personally experienced (after Mass on a Sunday) handling a queue of good folk waiting for me to bless rosaries while a perfectly competent deacon stands idle!? {Now, the fact of the matter is that my blessing carries no more power than a deacon’s.} When will ever learn?

Now, the Gospel extract tells us that Jesus is a Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep, calls, cares for, and leads them. Do we believe this? HE does not run away from danger … and has a special concern for those who do not belong. In other words he LOVES his sheep, and accepts the need to add to the flock.

THIS“is the love the Father has lavished upon us.”(second scripture) It is the real love of a shepherd who cares and leads. However, we must allow him to do just this. In addition, note that John raises us on the species ladder – from sheep to children! Children can be, and often are, naughty and disobedient. Sheep are notoriously stupid! No doubt the Lord loves us as children, brothers and sisters – yet sometimes his role as shepherd needs to dominate?! (RELAX!I have no intention of enlarging on the analogy!) It is possible, as John tells us, that we are able to become something other than what we are at any given moment. We ARE something! We are called to become something MORE. Never forget the proclamation of today’s Psalm: “give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his love has no end.” Thanksgiving always reminds us of what we have and what we enjoy. However, it should also be a spur to CONTINUE, and achieve greater things.

Our Psalm extract adds one further dimension when it informs us that “the stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.”{You will notice that Saint Pater in today’s FIRST SCRIPTURE [ACTS 4: 8 – 12] actually quotes this same verse while addressing the Sanhedrin}. In addition, this reading from ACTS records the apostle saying to the assembly of Jewish leaders, “then I am glad to tell you all, and would be glad to tell the whole people of Israel …” Peter was more than willing and eager to TELL HIS STORY!(remember last week?)

Now, when we revert to being rather silly sheep, fail to hear the shepherd’s call, forget that we are loved as children, brothers, sisters, and friends, then we are trying to build without THE keystone, and revert to being a part of the world that does not acknowledge him{see the second reading}.

I really believe it is important for us to realise that to reject the keystone we do not have to publicly deny the Lord, and turn our backs on the whole Christian ethic. There are times and occasions when we all reject in little things, and attempt to build our own little castles without him. These rejections (as we said last week) must be a part of the ordinary story that “we are glad to tell.” We are willing to tell it because it is TRUE!

If, by analogy, we apply some words of Jesus in today’s Gospel extract to ourselves, then only we can take our lives from ourselves, and it is always possible for us to take up our lives again. For most of us it is a recurring cycle, and this is the reason why it is so important to “give thanks to the Lord … his love has no end.”