Homily for May 7

Image source

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

When I look back on my childhood,
I see that I often took my parents’ love for granted.
I figured they were supposed to love me. And they did!
And even when they did things I wish they hadn’t done,
or failed to do things I wish they had done,
I still believed, I knew, they loved me.

What I don’t think I realized at all was how much they loved me.

- I can see now that they gladly went without
so that their children could have what they needed.
- I can see now how much they spent their lives for their children.
- I can see now that my mother and father would have put themselves
between me and harm’s way
- without a thought for their own welfare.

One of the reasons I see such love in my own past
is that I see it in the lives of families in our parish
and I recognize it as the kind of love I was given as a child.

Sadly, some children aren’t loved as well as others
and some times I see that, too.
And I pray that others in their lives will love them as unconditionally
as good parents love their sons and daughters.

This no-strings-attached, self-sacrificing love parents give
is just the kind of love Jesus has for each of us,
except that Jesus’ love for us never falters, never fails and never ends.

In his total surrender, Jesus put himself between us and harm’s way
when he laid down his life for us on the Cross.
And that’s what he’s trying to tell us in this gospel passage.
But you need to know a little about sheepfolds to get the message.

A sheepfold in Jesus’ time was a large enclosure
sometimes made of a roughly circular stone wall,
sometimes of thorn bushes, planted to hedge in a pen
where the sheep stayed at night.
But rather than a gate,
there would be a simple opening in the wall or hedge
through which the sheep would be herded to safety.
And once the sheep were in the sheepfold for the night,
the shepherd would lie down on the ground,
stretching across the opening
so that the sheep could not stray out, nor could wolves gain entrance             
under the cover of darkness.

That’s why Jesus makes that strange statement in the scripture here:
“I am the gate for the sheep.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture…”
The shepherd who becomes the sheepfold’s gate
provides a safe haven for the sheep
– and – protects them from harm.

Jesus, the shepherd, loves us as a mother and father love their child.
But Jesus is not only willing to lay down his life for his beloved:
he has, indeed, done that.

Perhaps another reason I missed the depths of my parents love
was that they provided so well for me, protected me so safely,
that I never knew that harm might come to me.

I failed to see how much I was loved
because I didn’t see how much I needed to be loved,
how much I needed to be protected.

Sometimes I’m like that with the Lord’s love, too.
I might not believe that evil, like a thief, waits to rob me, even now,
of what innocence I have left,
what honesty and purity are still mine,
what faithfulness and sincerity yet shape the person I am.
But I need the Lord’s protective love
whether I recognize the dangers around me or not
and the less aware I am of my need for God’s love
the more vulnerable I am what might harm me.

Our sanctuary here is like a sheepfold
but the shepherd is not at the gate, not at the church doors:
rather, our shepherd is in the center:
his image on the Cross;
and his voice, the one we recognize, in the scriptures.

Here at the altar, once again, he lays down his life for us,
now in the prayer and sacrifice of this table
where we find our pasture, our home
and we are nourished by the life
of our Good Shepherd.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!