Homily Notes for Good Shepherd Sunday “Looking Behind the Stars” In a months time the 2006 Football World Cup kicks off in Germany. Each of the thirty-two teams who have qualified will have very different expectations, but all would like to win. Some of the teams will simply be glad to be there and will enjoy the experience whatever happens. Other teams however will be expecting so much more. To be part of the team that wins the World Cup is the highest achievement any footballer can attain. Young people having a kick around on the school playground dream about winning this trophy. So what do you have to do to actually win a World Cup? It would certainly be helpful for the England Team if you could bottle whatever formula is needed to win a World Cup. Looking at the different teams shirts it‟s very easy to overlook a very important piece of detail. If you look closely you‟ll notice that some of the teams have a star above their country‟s badge. This means that they have won the World Cup before. Teams like Brazil or Germany have quite a few. England has a single star from the 1966 Finals. Behind each of these stars is the nearest answer you‟ll get to understanding how you win a World Cup. All the teams that take part in a World Cup have, by and large, the best players a country can offer. They are therefore good players. The teams that win the trophy have „great‟ players. Players that are one step ahead of the rest. Pelé, Franz Bekenbaur, Diego Maradona and England‟s Bobby Charlton typify such players in the past. They are not just born as great players. They certainly do have natural talent, but what they have more than most is a passion to win, and therefore they inspire those around them. The more of these types of players you have in your team the greater chance of victory. Yet when all of these great players were at school you probably couldn‟t tell them apart from the rest of the children. When you look at a flock of sheep, they too look pretty much the same; it‟s hard to tell one from another and yet they are all different. When a shepherd calls them, they don‟t all necessarily respond at the same time. There are usually one or two who have the greatest desire to follow and so draw the rest of the flock around them. It‟s not that they‟re the quickest or perhaps even the smartest, they simply recognise something in the shepherd that attracts them and they want to follow his call. Christ, The Good Shepherd, is calling. Amongst the flock of His Church are people who follow Him in so many ways whether it‟s as a Teacher, Doctor or Care Worker. There are others who follow Christ in their vocation to be a parent or as a married person. But there are others who feel a call to take a particular role of leadership in the Church‟s flock, as priests, deacons or in consecrated life. Like the sheep it‟s not that these people are necessarily the quickest or smartest, but they too recognise something in the Shepherd that attracts them. These are not people who will succeed in getting a greater reward when the Good Shepherd brings them to their promised pasture; they are simply the ones who take a lead because of their overwhelming desire to follow. People who have answered the call to these vocations are seen as leaders because their visible desire to follow Christ encourages others to ask “Why?” What is it that attracts them to follow this true God, true man; Jesus Christ? However, unlike the great footballers mentioned previously they are not the star players in God‟s team. On the contrary, to truly be a follower of Christ is to want what Christ wants. The greatest desire of a priest, deacon or one in consecrated life is to enable others to be stars. Stars, who in the life of the Church, are the saints. (At this stage you might like to say something personal about your own calling and serving God and his People) This Good Shepherd Sunday gives us an opportunity to look behind the stars and acknowledge the leaders who accompanied us in our journey. We also pray that others of those people amongst us at Mass today, who we know to have an overwhelming desire to follow Christ, will be open to the call of leadership in the Church, the flock of Christ.
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