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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Looby

4th Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday) 2024

Ismael was our tour guide through Morocco last week. He is pictured here in front of the King Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca which is the third largest mosque in the world after Mecca and Medina. He was a "Good Shepherd" in every way!


Over the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to travel through Spain and Morocco, exploring the rich tapestry of culture and history alongside about thirty-six fellow pilgrims. 


Amidst the bustling crowds at various historic sites, our group stayed connected and navigated through these busy spaces under the careful guidance of our tour guide.


Our guide carried a flag with the tour company’s emblem, which he would raise high to gather us and lead the way—much like a shepherd uses a staff. We were also equipped with small radios, called "whispers." Through these, our guide would direct us, his voice in our ears providing a clear path amid the noise around us.


Here we see a modern example of this weekend's gospel where Jesus tells us, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11) 


Like our guide, Jesus leads us through the complexities and challenges of life. His teachings and His Church are the flag held high, which we can look to when we feel lost. His Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts, guiding us like the “whispers”, ensuring we follow His voice.


Jesus' role as the Good Shepherd is defined by His ultimate sacrifice—laying down His life for us. This selfless love surpasses all, and He calls us to listen to His voice, just as we followed the guidance of our tour guide, trusting in him to lead us through unfamiliar places.


"The good shepherd... knows his sheep and is known by his own." (John 10:14) On our trip, the more we listened to our guide, the more we learned to recognize his voice—even amongst a crowd. Similarly, the more we engage with Jesus through prayer and Scripture, the deeper our relationship with Him becomes.


Now, this system to keep our flock together with the banner and the whispers was not 100% foolproof. At least two people got lost. In those times our tour guide went back and looked for them and, thank God, they were able to find them and bring them back to our group.


In our spiritual lives, we too can get lost amidst the distractions and temptations of our daily lives. Sometimes, it's the noise of our responsibilities or the allure of material comforts that drown out the voice of our Shepherd. Other times, it’s the fog of doubt or despair that obscures our path.

How Can We Find Jesus Again?

But just as we found direction by keeping our eyes on the flag and listening through the whispers, we find Jesus by looking to the cross and listening to His Word. We do that by:

  • Stop and Reflect: Recognize when we stray and pause to seek direction through prayer or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  • Seek the Landmarks: The Church, the sacraments, and the community of believers are our spiritual landmarks that guide us back to Christ.

  • Listen for His Voice: In the quiet of our hearts, through Scripture, and in the teachings of the Church, Jesus calls out to us, guiding us back to His embrace.

How Does Jesus Find Us?

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not wait passively for us to return; He actively comes in search of us. He ventures out to every dark valley and every lost road to bring us back through His:

  • His Persistent Call: Through His word and His Church, Christ calls us back, gently yet persistently.

  • His Active Search: Like the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep, Jesus seeks out each one of us when we stray.

  • His Gracious Rescue: When He finds us, He joyfully lifts us onto His shoulders, carrying us back to safety—forgiven, renewed, and loved.


Let us always remember the ways in which we can become lost and the sure ways back to our Shepherd. As I experienced through the careful guidance of our tour guide, Jesus provides us with the “flag” of His cross to follow and the “whispers” of His Holy Spirit to guide us. No matter how far we may stray, the Good Shepherd is always ready to bring us back into His fold.

May we always trust in Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to guide us, protect us, and lead us to the pastures of eternal life.


Amen.



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