On Good Shepherd Sunday, April 18, we focussed our prayer on how pastoral care of each other can continue at this time with our churches closed again for at least two more weeks. Let our idea of ministry emphasise relational service rather than dominant authority. Then more people will be willing to take on that kind of pastoral role?
The challenge is for all parishioners to somehow be shepherds to one another. This involves the effort to learn the names of individuals in their communities, especially those who join us for the Eucharist on Sunday mornings, so as to be able to greet them by name and make them really welcome. I am shocked so many times when I as a parishioner ‘who is that person form your community, what is his/her name’? Fifty percent of the time the answer is ‘I don’t know.’
The Good Shepherd knows each of us personally, and calls us each by name. The more we build a sense of belonging and of trust in the parish, the better we can identify the ones who would be good shepherds. We might then quietly approach them to take on the kind of leadership that our Church needs today.
The spiritual reward for staying close to our Good Shepherd is described in the Book of Revelation: “They will never hunger or thirst again. For the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water.” As we receive this Good Shepherd in Holy Communion, we trust him to lead us to that living water and bless us with a closer relationship with him personally, and with others in his name.
Fr. John McEvoy