Bread in the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

This Sunday, April 26, is called Good Shepherd Sunday because the Gospel reading is John 10: 11-18. The first and second readings are: Acts 4: 8-12, and John’s first letter: 3: 1-2.

Peter tells us in Acts that Jesus, whom the people rejected, has become the “corner stone,” the stone that holds all the other stones together. For us Christians, this is at the heart of our faith—Jesus is the center of our lives and empowers us to model our lives on His. But that “modeling” is not for show and tell. We don’t get to act holy and pious and think we are anything more that con artists.

To be like Him is to be in touch with His heart. John helps us understand the heart of Jesus as he portrays Him as a Good Shepherd. He lays down his life for the sheep; he hangs around to make sure the sheep are safe. He loves the sheep. He wants the sheep to live in peaceful pastures. He will do everything for the sheep, including dying for them. He wants their happiness and fulfillment.

The Good Shepherd wants us to thrive, to be happy, to become all we are meant to be. And when things go wrong, He will be there to hold us and assure us that nothing, nothing can separate us from the love of God. It is only in our knowing that we are loved beyond all telling, that we can become the loving people that we are meant to be.

Embraced by God’s love, we can venture out from our comfort zone and embrace the other, whether we see them as part of our “fold” or not. The freedom that we experience when we reach out to others is almost beyond description. And the joy that follows is heavenly.

The ramifications of our being loved beyond all telling are a huge challenge. It will mean that while any child of God is suffering, our own heart is not at ease. There is not inner sanctum we can go to for peace and quiet while the cries of the poor are getting louder and louder.

Our being embraced by God, will mean that our days and hours and minutes will be infused with a loving desire to reach out to others. Not wishful thinking, but real deeds for those who need us.

Look around. See the pain and suffering of so many. The awful violence and death surrounding us in our city cries out for healing. The awful reality that the lack of food stamps has on so many, including our babies, the constant pain and suffering of being without decent food and clothing is not too far from any of us. Our own people are suffering.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are the flock of His pasture.