Sunday, May 7, 2017

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lies down his life for the sheep.” — John 10:11.

Sheep were often gathered in an area with walls (sheepfold) to keep the sheep in and to keep wolves out. The gate was the only entrance and exit. Sometimes the actual gate was the shepherd who would lie down there to sleep at night. The sheep would not cross over him and he would still provide the protection.

Jesus says today: “Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. I am the gate for the sheep.”

The sheep trust the shepherd; he calls them by name, they follow him. They will not follow a voice or a person they cannot recognize.

Jesus used this image to focus on his relationship with us. The church uses this passage today, on Good Shepherd Sunday, to extend the image further to those who shepherd in the name of Jesus. We look to our shepherds – priest, deacons, religious, lay leaders – to act in the name of Jesus and to love like him.

We expect them to be faithful to the Gospel and to preach it always. (This is one more reason why the clergy abuse cases have been so disturbing).

There is a saying attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” It is exactly what the Good Shepherd (Jesus) did and what he asks of his shepherds today.

The church needs more good shepherds

On this “Good Shepherd Sunday,” we open our hearts in prayer, asking God to enrich the church with good shepherds.

We need priests; we are a Eucharistic community. We need deacons; they are committed through their ordination to preach and serve the poor. We need religious; they have so many gifts that have built up the body of Christ and served the church for centuries.

We depend upon our religious lay leaders who are liturgical ministers, and catechists who care for the sick and poor, who help to administer the resources of the church.

We don’t just need priests and leaders, we need GOOD SHEPHERDS!

Let us join the universal church throughout the world today to pray for more vocations.

Let us pray with the church of the United States on this Vocation Sunday for an increase in shepherds, especially priests who will continue to form and sustain Eucharistic communities of faith.

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email perry.leiker@gmail.com. Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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