The Shepherd: Heartfelt Work, Thanks and Homecomings

We are delighted to welcome home Father Al’s distinctive and heartfelt laugh.  He’s been on sabbatical; a time to rejuvenate by listening intently to Christ the Good Shepherd.

This fourth Sunday of Easter focuses on Jesus the Good Shepherd.  Shepherding is difficult, dangerous and nomadic work that’s isolated from others.  It’s the kind of work that doesn’t allow for the settled nature of family life.  A shepherd’s sole focus is the flock.  A shepherd knows all of his sheep and is concerned about the condition of each and every one of them; caring for them around the clock.  Nurturing, protecting, and guiding.  Holding nothing back.  Sheep find comfort in community, but they still wander off, and when they do, the shepherd calls them back home.  If there’s no response, he goes after that sheep and when it’s found, he carries it back on his shoulders rejoicing.

Celebrating the everyday is something children seem to do easily and naturally.  Have you ever noticed how little ones hold nothing back?   Their laughter is authentic, it comes from deep within; they run, play and live fully – embracing every precious moment.  With our Academy and a playground in the heart of our parish campus, the symphony of children’s laughter is always part of the “soundtrack” of daily life at Queen of Peace.

The life of a priest is very much like the shepherd described.  They leave security and comfort behind for the non-stop challenges of tending the flock of God’s beloved children.  In fact, the word “pastor” comes from the Latin noun “pastor” which means “shepherd.”

Isn’t it wonderful that our parish community has such a faithful, authentic and dedicated Pastor?  And isn’t it wonderful that our priests are able to make time for prayer and self-care?

Just as a child is happiest in the warm embrace of a parent, we are happiest in the care and in the flock of our Good Shepherd Jesus.  He delights in us when we listen and follow by living His Gospel of love and mercy with child-like trust.   Truly, each day of the year is a precious gift from God.   May we choose to make time for quiet moments daily, to examine our hearts and listen for the call of Jesus the Good Shepherd.  Together, as a community of faith, may we join in the ongoing ministry of seeking and caring for all beloved children of God, especially those on the margins, and rejoice at homecomings of all kinds.

Speaking of self care,  Father Joe will be away for a month beginning this week and Father Anthony will have his leave over the summer.