Homily Notes 4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday (Vocations Sunday)
Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:20b-25; John 10:1-10.
Summary: In the midst of a fallen and dangerous world, Jesus is the Good
Shepherd who guides us to salvation, both in this world and in the next, and he is
the model for all leadership (pastoring) which is also a call for vocations.
3 points – 1) We need shepherds. 2) Jesus is the Good Shepherd. 3) We are to
become good shepherds in the imitation of Jesus. 4) Promote vocations.
Overview of the readings: Both the Old and the New Testaments use the image of a shepherd and
his flock to describe both the relationship of the nation’s leaders to its people as well as the unique
relation of Israel to God and of Christians to Christ. The first reading is taken from St. Peter’s first
sermon on Pentecost. Here, he exhorts his listeners, Jewish people gathered for the harvest feast, to
know beyond any doubt that the one they have allowed to be crucified is the true shepherd, the Lord and
Messiah. Peter then proclaims that the proper response to the Good News about Jesus is to repent and be
baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ,” thus becoming members of the Good Shepherd’s flock. Through
the sacrament of Baptism, they will receive the forgiveness of sins. Peter also recognizes the need to be
saved from “this “corrupt generation (in this world). The responsorial psalm (Ps 23) introduces Yahweh
as the Good Shepherd of Israel and describes all of the things the Lord does for us, providing for our
The second reading continues the “shepherd” imagery. Peter encourages the suffering Christians to
follow in their shepherd’s (“suffering servant”) footsteps and to remember that they have been claimed by
Him. Peter also explains how Jesus, the innocent sufferer, was a model of patience and trust in God, and
that his suffering has enabled us to become more fully children of God. In today’s Gospel, two brief
parables about sheep reveal Jesus as our unique means to salvation. He is the “sheep gate, the gateway to
eternal life, and the selfless, caring “good shepherd who provides protection and life itself.
Significance of the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The Gospel reading always comes from John 10, presenting
Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It is, hence, the traditional Sunday for Vocations, for everyone’s vocation,
but especially priests and religious (both sisters and brothers). Other crucial vocations for the Church are
Deacons, catechists, all lay ministers, and parents. We all have in addition a vocation of service and
witness in the world around us.
1. Are all shepherds (leaders) good?
The Old Testament shows great concern for corrupt and deceitful leaders of the Temple and of the
Nation. See Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34 and related passages for the description of and consequences of
having bad leaders
Jesus describes three kinds of “bad” shepherds. There are thieves and robbers, there are hirelings (v.
12), and there are real dangers out there (wolves). The thieves and robbers come to rob, to kill and to
destroy. The hireling (employee) will flee in the face of danger leaving the sheep vulnerable to whatever
evil or danger is lurking around (See 1 Peter 5:8). Note that these ideas counter the “cheap grace”
approach that once we have committed ourselves to Jesus, we can never be lost. The Bible and Jesus
constantly remind us that we can fall away from Jesus, be corrupted, and destroyed by the Devil.
2. Is there really danger out there, dangerous powers in the world?
Are we too optimistic about our ability to handle problems? To cure disease? To protect our families?
Do we know what decisions to make to protect our salvation? Are we ignorant of God’s definition of sin?
Do I know what is going to come up in the future? Can we see or identify the Devil? How can we avoid his
lies and his tricks.
Example – sex before marriage and living together….. Venereal diseases and collapse of the family.
How about how to talk and live in community.
The worst and most dangerous are the spiritual dangers.
If we really sat down and took time to think about these dangers we would be petrified.
3. Is there really a Devil, dangerous supernatural powers. Remember the work of Fr. Gabriel
Amorth, An Exorcist Tells His Story.” Do we need help to make it through? Every soldier would love to
have a map to lead him through the minefield of sin
What are the three sources of sin and evil? The world, the flesh, and the Devil. We promise to reject
these both in the Baptismal Promises and the Promises we take in Confirmation.
4. Is there a Good Shepherd who is competent to protect us and to guide us?
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Jesus also said that his followers should also listen to His Church.
“Those who hear you hear me.” We need to know what our Church teaches and what the Word of God
really says. See the CCC # 754 and related citations to the importance and function of shepherds: Jer 23,
Ezek 34; Isa 40:11, Jn 10, 1 Pet 5:4
5. Who are to be models of the Good Shepherd, to imitate Jesus?
Think of both Moses and King David as shepherd leaders.
The most important are priests and religious, but everyone has a vocation (John Paul II).
Others leaders in the Church: Deacons, catechists, youth leaders, lay ministers etc.
In the family, fathers, mothers, and children.
In our community – teachers, civic leaders, social workers, financial leaders, etc.
6. We all need to become good shepherds and good leaders: Every one who is entrusted
with the care of others is a shepherd. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us,
praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them from
physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties by giving good example
to their children and training them in Christian principles.
7. We need to become good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Our local parish is
our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Hence as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners
are expected to a) Hear and follow the voice of our shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes,
counseling and advice. b) Receive the spiritual food given by our pastors, deacons and catechists by
regular participation in the Holy Mass, by frequenting the sacraments and by prayer services, renewal
programs and missions. c). Cooperate with our pastors in positive suggestions and service, loving
correction with constructive criticism and active participation. d) Praying for vocations.
8. How great a need is there for religious vocations? And the resources to pay for them?
9. Are we really willing to let Jesus be our full-time shepherd? Are we willing to turn all
the parts of our lives over to Him? Or are we going to try to keep back part? Do we really
trust that He can and will take us to where we need to be. Note that this is not a recipe for a
life without problems. We will each have our crosses to carry, but Jesus will help us to get
through it (1 Cor 10;13).
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not
allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape
also, that you may be able to endure it.”
I will guarantee you that problems will arise out of the areas that you do not submit to
10. Example: Alexander, the shepherd of soldiers. When the emperor Alexander the Great was
crossing the Makran Desert on his way to Persia, his army ran out of water. The soldiers were dying of
thirst as they advanced under the burning sun. A couple of Alexander’s lieutenants managed to capture
some water from a passing caravan. They brought some to him in a helmet. He asked, “Is there enough
for both me and my men?” “Only you, sir” they replied. Alexander then lifted up the helmet as the
soldiers watched. Instead of drinking, he tipped it over and poured the water on the ground. The men let
up a great shout of admiration. They knew their general would not allow them to suffer anything he was
unwilling to suffer himself.
Application: What is the one thing I must get out of this Mass to become the better-
version-of-myself that God wants?