Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
NOTE FROM JESSICA: In celebration of Mother’s Day, we pray for women at all stages of motherhood and life experience, and remember especially those for whom this day can be a difficult one. May all of us be wrapped in the loving embrace of the God who promises us “Even should [a mother] forget [her infant], I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15).
For a collection of prayers by and for mothers everywhere, click here: Creighton University’s Online Ministries
4th Sunday of Easter, Year A | May 10/11, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
There was a story in Reader’s Digest a few years ago that really stuck with me.
It was about a young woman who had just begun working in a school for students with severe learning disabilities and behavior issues.
She was standing in the hallway one morning when a student got into a confrontation with an administrator. The next thing she knew, he was running . . . Down the hall, out the door and across the parking lot.
And without a moment’s hesitation, she began chasing after him. Crossing that same parking lot in 90 degree heat wearing high heels.
After several blocks of the chase, she was suddenly startled by a police car that came flying up behind her. Resigned to his fate, the young man stopped running and stared with a perplexed expression at his teacher.
“Why did you come after me?” he asked. “Don’t you know that they always send the police to come and get me when I run?”
She looked him square in the eye and said, “Because you are my student. And I will not lose one of my own.”
Shocked, the young man got into the back of the police car. It would be the last time that he ever ran away again.
I must admit, as I listened to our Gospel from this morning , I couldn’t help but think of that young man. For he was truly one of those sheep who runs at the sound of another’s voice. But the more I thought about him, the more I realized that he is surely not alone.
For, if we are honest with ourselves, we are all surrounded by voices that we attempt to flee before.
Voices that convince us that happiness will only be found in the rat race. That look upon our exhaustion as a status symbol. That convince us that we must strive for that next promotion, regardless of the cost to our health, our family, our peace of mind.
Voices that tell us that we are not good enough. That we are not thin enough or strong enough. Smart enough or beautiful enough. Voices that convince us that no one will ever be able to love us as we are.
Voices that fill our hearts with fear, with anxiety, with doubt. That strangle our inner peace.
Voices that whisper of our past. That remind us of what we have done. That dredge up the darkness in our own lives and make us relive it again and again.
Voices that leave us jaded. That leave us staring at the shepherd at the gate and asking the same question as a troubled teen. Why? Why do you even bother to try to corral us: your lost, frightened, willful sheep? Why are you running after us?
Now, intellectually, I know that I can answer why. I have been in theology classes long enough to know that sheep will gradually learn to only respond to the voice of their shepherd. And I can see all the beautiful implications of this metaphor when applied to Christ.
But in my heart, I know that my world is too far removed from the land of sheep and shepherds to allow me to truly grasp the depth of Christ’s love revealed in this image.
Which is why I found it so interesting that this image is offered on the very day in which we celebrate Mother’s day. It’s almost as if the Church is making sure we don’t miss the point.
See I may not understand a shepherd’s devotion to his sheep. But I do understand a mother’s devotion to her sons.
For I have experienced firsthand what it means when someone pledges to walk beside you every step of your life. For my mother was always there:
As I first learned how to walk across the living room floor
As I battled with my brothers over who would get the first push on the swing
As I was caught up in the whirlwind of high school drama
As I cried over broken hearts and damaged dreams.
As I knelt before my brothers as they welcomed me into their religious family.
In my mother, I have caught a glimpse of the power of Christ’s love that is revealed to us this day.
For even if a shepherd abandons his sheep. Even if a mother neglects her child. We are assured that Christ will not abandon us. Will not forsake us.
Because we are his beloved sisters and brothers. Because he loves us. And he is not going to lose us.
So whether we feel like our lives are spinning out of control or slowly grinding to a halt, remember Christ is with us.
Whether we are in our green pastures or our dark valleys, Christ is with us.
Whether we are lost or whether we are resting secure in the peace that we are where God wants us, Christ is with us.
Whether we are still struggling beneath the weight of our own shame or basking in the joys that life has brought us, Christ is with us.
Happy Good Shepherd Sunday my friends. Happy Mother’s Day.
Truly, this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.