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Fr. Mark’s Desk - April 22, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Easter
“I am the good shepherd… I lay down my life in order to take it up again.”

Dear Parishioners,

The Gospel of John offers an insight into the identity of Jesus that is enhanced from the other gospels. All of the gospels reflect on the things Jesus did and said. We know Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, he walked the earth, he healed the sick, he cared for the poor, he forgave the sinner, he died for our sins and rose from the dead. But the Gospel of John tells more and John uses the words of Jesus himself.

I Am the Bread of Life
I Am the resurrection and the life
I Am the way, the truth and life
I Am the light of the world
I Am the gate
I Am the good shepherd

These “I Am” statements are used frequently in the Gospel of John as a way of Jesus identifying himself. This self-awareness of Jesus is important in understanding his life here on earth, and his life in eternity.

Jesus identifying himself as the good shepherd distinguishes him from the flock. He is in the flock but not of the flock, he is in the world but not of the world. Knowing he is the shepherd is critical to his relationship to us. “I know my sheep and mine know me” indicates that Jesus knows who we are. What we know, he knows. He knows us.

To make it more personal, say to yourself, “He knows Me”. As we look at our life we often find the need to explain to God what we are going through. It is as if we imagine God does not understand. As we learn from the psalms, we surrender our problems and worries to God, trusting that he will help us, save us.

The pursuit of understanding ourselves begins, in understanding who God is. The good shepherd directs and leads his sheep not in an aggressive way, but in an influential and loving way. A sheep that does not follow the lead of the shepherd becomes a lost sheep. The shepherd then does what he can, to find the lost sheep and return it to the fold.

The identity of the shepherd is ‘dependent’ on the success of the sheep. Any parent or teacher understands this image. Any success of any student I have ever taught, is a success to me too! So, the shepherd rejoices when his sheep are living well and are found.

The writer John Shea says, “When we are swept up in the consciousness of unconditional love, it does not appear as something we choose. It is simply something we are”. The love of the shepherd is unconditional because it is who Jesus is… I Am who Am. The shepherd rejoices when we rejoice with him, he rejoices when we are found.

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On this Good Shepherd Sunday, please pray, encourage, and support vocations to priesthood and religious life. Also, pray, encourage, and support all women and men who make a difference for Christ in the world.

Have a great week!
Fr. Mark Walter - Pastor

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