Fourth Sunday of Easter

About the middle of the nineteenth century St. John Bosco (founder of the Salesians) began to work for poor and endangered youth in the Italian city of Turin. The young people soon realized that in him they had found a true friend. They so loved him that once when he got seriously ill, they stormed heaven with their prayers. As it happened John Bosco recovered. This kind of bond cannot exist unless there is closeness, and closeness involves knowing and being known. Jesus the Good Shepherd, says, ‘I know my sheep. There are various levels of knowing. We know some people just as a face or a name. Others we know as acquaintances. And others we know as friends. The Jewish writer Elie Wiesel was very attached to his father who died in Auschwitz in 1944. Yet when he came to write his autobiography he declared: ‘I never really knew my father. It hurts to admit that. I knew little of the man I loved most in the world. I wonder if other sons have the same problem. Do they know their fathers as someone other than the authoritarian figure who leaves in the morning and returns in the evening?’ I fear this is a common cry. Our world has become so impersonal today that children sometimes don’t know their parents; parents don’t know their children; when this knowledge is absent, a great loss results. You can’t love someone you don’t know. To know someone takes time and effort, but we don’t have time, and sometimes were too tired to make the effort. Are we losing something very valuable in our society? And then we wonder what has gone wrong when we see the extent of drugs, violence, alcoholism, and depression that has become endemic in our society. Jesus the Good shepherd, put in a good word for all of us we also need to take a stand and put in a good word for others. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He walks with his sheep, he knows them and defends them  even by laying down his life.  Let us never loose the opportunity of putting in a good word for somebody. We know how grateful we are when someone defends us. When we do this, then we can join Jesus in his great mission as the good shepherd. He knows us and is close to us. We who are gathered here today are invited to have the heart of the Good Shepherd, and then our family, our community and our world will be a much more loving place.