Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 22, 2018
The last thing that I would have envisioned myself doing in my retirement years is boarding a school bus filled with high school students and embarking on a “field trip.” But that is exactly how it spent the Monday morning after Easter break. The entire student body of Nouvel Catholic Central was invited by Sacred Heart Parish, Mount Pleasant, to join Catholic school students from around our Diocese to a production called Cross and Light. Staged right in the worship space of the church, we experienced what might be described as a Passion play/musical. Coming at the very beginning of the Easter Season, it had a special impact on all of us. (You can find information on Facebook about this touring production.)
The folks from Sacred Heart were excellent hosts. They were also well organized. When our bus arrived in the church parking lot, there was someone there to greet us and show our driver where to park in the sea of yellow buses that all looked alike. As we disembarked, we were told where to enter the building and how to find the seats that were reserved for us. The energy level of the kids tends to be contagious, and, anxious to get into the “theatre,” I simply followed the directions without looking back.
At the conclusion of the play, there was an orderly dismissal. However, no bus had yet to move and it was only then that it occurred to me that I should have taken better notice of where we had parked. With the group of students for whom I was responsible fast on my heels, their energy level ramped up even higher from the performance, my post-production enthusiasm changed to panic. It was then that I spotted the principal, who stands out in a crowd because of his height, and his booming voice. He had ridden with us and was walking confidently in one direction. So, without another thought, I followed him…leading my own little flock.
My BRIEF time as a substitute theology teacher has given me the opportunity to see lots of examples of the power and influence of GOOD SHEPHERDS. The band director with the tap of his baton, the football coach with a few shrill blows on a whistle, the drama teacher calmly calling out: listen up, people! In fact, every time I walk down the hallway of the school and look into the classrooms I am passing, today’s Gospel comes to life for me. I very much enjoyed the same kind of experience of Christ the Good Shepherd as I walked through the halls of the elementary school during my six years as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas. There, I daily observed Sr. Ann leading the flock of our littlest lambs…while the rest of the faculty followed her example.
Jesus said: I am the Good Shepherd. I think rather than simply trying to self-describe or leave us with an image of Himself and the way He interacts with us, The Lord used the title Good Shepherd as a “job description” for Christian discipleship. We are called to live the kind of lives that inspire others to follow our lead. We are called to be imitators of Jesus Christ, Who is the Good Shepherd, even to the point of laying down His life so that we might be saved. We are called to be “good teachers” in the school of life, helping The Good Shepherd guide all of God’s children safely home. It is God’s will that no child be left behind…no soul wander off…no life be lost! And God asks our help!