‘The Lord is truly risen, alleluia.’ (Invitatory antiphon)
A good shepherd cares for his sheep. He feeds them and gives them water to drink. The shepherd protects them and is attentive to all their needs. With his staff, he defends them from any obstruction or attack. The shepherd waits around while they graze and watches them lovingly as one sheep follows another. He knows each one and probably calls each by name. When a sheep strays or loses its way he rescues it and brings it safely back in his arms to the sheep fold. Because the shepherd spends a long time with his sheep they trust their shepherd and they recognise his voice. Sometimes a shepherd might prefer to do something else rather than take care of his sheep, but he chooses to stay with them. A shepherdess would care in the same way!
What a lovely and appropriate image for Jesus- The Good Shepherd! Jesus grew up among shepherds and sheep so he knew their life and customs. Jesus identifies himself as the good shepherd. He said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd’.
God is the Good Shepherd, though there is only One shepherd. Jesus is One with the Father, though distinct from the Father. The Father and Son are equal. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in him. That is why there is only One shepherd-The Good Shepherd.
Today the priest proclaims the ‘Parable of the Good Shepherd’ (Jn 10:11-18) at Mass which can be heard on the webcam or personally read in the New Testament. Children are familiar with this parable from the Grow in Love programme (Luke 15:2-7).
“ALL OR NOTHING”
An excellent film, available on YouTube that illustrates what one good shepherd might look like in the world today is “All or Nothing”. The film describes the life of an Irish nun, Sister Clare Crockett from Brandywell Co. Derry who was killed in an earthquake in 2016 in Ecuador. She was 33 years of age. Sister Clare was a well-loved, gifted and popular young woman who responded to God’s call and invitation to enter the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother in 2001, at eighteen years of age.
With her guitar in hand, a great deal of energy and a remarkable love and appreciation for God, she lived her vocation to the full. She had “a special gift to reach the souls of children and young people” and she spent much of her time in the company of young people and her Sisters, working in schools and organising youth camps. Young people loved her and many of them are interviewed in the film sharing her wonderful witness and joy. This film is inspirational and inspires hope in young and not so young. Sister Clare was described as an “all or nothing” person and worked wholeheartedly for God and the mission. Life wasn’t a bed of roses for Sister Clare but she trusted in Jesus Christ who was the love of her life.
Though the film is not included in the Grow in Love programme, children would like to see the joy, friendship, energy and zeal Sister Clare had for people. Young people already have discovered a great role model in her. Her love for God and her spirit of joy lives on in her family, her community, her friends and the youth who knew her. There are clips of Sister Clare preparing children to receive Holy Communion and the sacrament of Reconciliation. She also worked with candidates who were discerning their call to religious life. She loved to shepherd the youth and encourage them to hear God’s call and invitation to love and trust.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD IN THE GROW IN LOVE PROGRAMME
Both ‘The Parable of the Lost Sheep’, (Luke 15:2-7), and Psalm 23 are explored throughout the Grow in Love Programme from GIL First Class/P3. This Parable and Psalm 23 in the Sacred Scripture are central to the preparation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. Chatting experiences help children to identify the ‘shepherds’, people who lovingly care for them in their day to day life. It is hoped that children will consider the meaning of the parable in the context of their own lives. They will identify God as the shepherd who will always seek out those who are lost. They will empathise with the feeling of the shepherd who loses the sheep, and the sheep who has strayed. Reflecting on the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep they are invited to see and understand that as the Good Shepherd seeks out the lost sheep. God seeks out God’s people with love, compassion and mercy so each is invited to return to God. In turn, children will grow in these loving values through prayer and reflection.
With regular reading of the parables introduced in the Grow in Love programme, the children will identify the Kingdom of God in the reality of the world. They will recognise these parables in Sacred Scripture and hear them proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.
When studying the Books of the Bible the Psalms are introduced in Grow in Love. Psalms are prayers which people prayed to God in ancient times. Psalms of thanks, sorrow, praise and psalms in time of need are included in the Grow in Love e-books. The psalms use images and words to describe God, e.g. shepherd, rock, shield. Psalm 23 is a lovely prayer for children in helping them to know and trust God.
As the children reflect and listen to the proclamation of the Word of God they deepen their relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Children are encouraged to write and pray their personal psalms.
A variety of attractive vimeos, online resources and art and craft activities on the theme of the Good Shepherd and Shepherding, can be accessed on the dashboard of the VERITAS website.
Today might be a good day to sing songs which can be accessed on the website that are related to God’s care, love and protection; “ The Lord he is my Shepherd’, ‘Quiet and Still’,’ Grow in Love’ ‘Circle of Friends’, ‘Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks’, ‘The Bible Rap’, ‘Sing Praise’(Psalm 148), ‘I Am Sorry God’.
PRAY from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
ACT OF SORROW
O my God, I thank you for loving me.
I am sorry for all my sins, for not loving
others and not loving you.
Help me to live like Jesus and not sin again. Amen.
A Dhia, gabhaim buíochas leat as ucht do ghrá dom.
Ta brón orm faoi mo pheacaí uile:
Nach raibh grá agam duitse ná do dhaoine eile.
Cabhraigh liom mo shaol a chaitheamh
ar nós Íosa agus gan peaca a dhéanamh arís.
PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS
O my God, help me to remember the times when I didn’t live
as Jesus asked me to.
Help me to be sorry and try again. Amen.
PAIDIR AG IARRAIDH MAITHIÚNAIS
A Dhia, ár nAthair, cabhraigh liom
cuimhneamh ar na huaireanta
nár mhair mé mar a d’iarr Íosa orm.
Cabhraigh liom brón a bheith orm
agus iarracht eile a dhéanamh. Áiméan.
PRAYER AFTER FORGIVENESS
O my God, thank you for forgiving me.
Help me to love others.
Help me to live as Jesus asked me to.
PAIDIR TARÉIS MAITHIÚNAIS
A Dhia, ár nAthair, go raibh maith agat
faoi mhaithiúnas a thabhairt dom.
Cabhraigh liom grá a thabhairt
do dhaoine eile.
Cabhraigh liom maireachtáil mar a
d’iarr Íosa orm.
‘I am the good shepherd; I feed my sheep and I lay down my life for them, alleluia.’ (Benedictus antiphon)
‘I have these sheep that are not of this fold and these I must also lead. They too will listen to my voice and there will be only one flock and one shepherd.’ (Magnificat antiphon)
‘My soul thirsts for God, for the loving God. Where shall I go and see the face of God?’ (Psalm 42:3)
St Conleth, pray for us.
Sr Anne Neylon