Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 12, 2019

Fr. José Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.

Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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In the Name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


“For the lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water” (Rev 7:17).

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we are invited to contemplate Christ the Good Shepherd. On this day, we are also reminded of the pastors of souls, the human pastors who are called to represent the Good Shepherd.


For this reason, today I am not going to preach to you but to myself.


First of all, a pastor has to be human. He has to feel in his heart what the sheep feel.


Sheep hunger and thirst but do not know where to find food and drink. Sheep need to be guided by their shepherd to pastures and springs. In the most important aspects of our lives, we human beings are not able to find that which satisfies our hunger and thirst. Without guidance, we become lost on the path. We need someone to follow, someone who knows the path toward our destiny.


Jesus is the Good Shepherd by his nature. He is God. We become good shepherds through participation.


A pastor has to feel in his heart what his sheep feel. In order for a shepherd to lead his flock, he has to have what his sheep are hungering and thirsting for. Only someone who is also a sheep can be a good shepherd.


Jesus goes further. He identifies himself as a lamb. He is the Lamb of God. In Jesus, we find a shepherd who is also a lamb. The small and pure Lamb leads the flock. Humility is needed for shepherding God’s flock.


Our mission is not to lead people to ourselves but rather to Christ. When we do that, we are good shepherds. Our mission is to help people listen to the voice of the Shepherd, not to our voices.


Priesthood is much more than leadership. It is a calling to identify ourselves with Christ the Good Shepherd, as both a priest and a victim. In the life of a priest, the dimension of being a victim is of great importance. In a mysterious way, we are called to participate in the mystery of the suffering of the Lamb through our own suffering or that of the people in our ministry. We cannot be triumphant leaders. Instead, we must be followers of the Lamb. In order to be good shepherds, we have to be with Jesus on the cross.


A priest who is not a victim becomes a religious bureaucrat or a manager of an organization, someone who is distant from the people.


At every Mass, we say the following prayer: “With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord […] Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” A priest has to pray for humility and purity of heart in order to shepherd the flock entrusted to him. Conversion of heart must be a constant in his life.


Let us pray today for the sanctification of priests in the image of the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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