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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Good Shepherd Sunday

The fourth Sunday after Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Psalm 100 reminds us: "We are his people, the sheep of his flock." I love the Gospel of John where Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me."
Years ago, when I lived in Chile, one of our community houses was surrounded by a yard with a flock of sheep who all had biblical names and came when they were called. They are not very bright and almost had to be led to the food put out for them. They did follow when called by name.

I love Psalm 23: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want ..." I read this quote about not fearing: "God, as shepherd, so protects his sheep that they need not fear their enemies (v. 4). He leads them in safety through dangerous situations. Defenseless sheep can, without fear, entrust their shepherd to direct their way, even “through the valley of the shadow of death” (v. 4). There is a ravine south of the Jericho Road that leads from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea that shepherds call the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This narrow defile, four and a half miles long, runs through a mountainous range where overhanging cliffs may be as much as 1500 feet high. There sheep traverse the valley floor which may be very dangerous because it is subject to erosion by cloud bursts. At times there are gullies seven or eight feet deep where wild dogs may lurk to prey on the sheep. The psalmist affirms his faith in God, his shepherd, by promising not to be afraid, even in the most dreadful circumstances likened to that of sheep passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death." I shall try to find where I am quoting this from and let you know as I think it was a homily. More about the Good Shepherd tomorrow.

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