At Mass I have been making the following announcement. As you may recall, Bishop makes new priest assignments to begin the first of July. He asked that I make this announcement this weekend. It is that I will be retiring at the end of June. I am thankful for the time I was able to spend with all of you. I will share plans in the next couple of weeks. now that I continue tom pray for all of you. Thank you all for being such a blessing for me.
Having grown up on a farm, I learned a lot about animals, including sheep. We considered them pretty dumb animals. You didn’t have to scare them because they would just run away. Their eyesight is not very good, so they may run to the fence and injure themselves. You would move from one pasture to another by herding them using dogs to keep them together in a group.
About five years ago I had the opportunity to visit Israel. Part of the journey was to see how the shepherds in Israel were herding their sheep. It is very different from what I knew. The shepherds in Israel still use the same stone pens they used in Jesus’ time.
In these sheepfolds there may be two or three different shepherds with their sheep. Looking at all the sheep in the fold, it seemed impossible how to sort the sheep for the right owner. But the shepherd had no problem separating the sheep. He simply began to call them by name.
His sheep would come to him, and as he walked away, they would follow him. He did not have to herd them or force them to go anywhere. They trusted the shepherd and instinctively followed him knowing that he would protect them.
Jesus wants His disciples to follow Him in the same way. Trusting Jesus, knowing that He will keep you safe, protected, and fed. This parable also accuses the religious leaders of mistreating the people and causing them great pain and hardship. No wonder the leaders repeatedly tried to kill Jesus.
Remember, the sheep were not forced or intimidated to follow the shepherd. They continued because they trusted and believed in the shepherd. The same trust and belief is necessary for us. We have free will. We choose to follow or deviate. Reflect on the love the shepherd has for you.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen