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Homily for April 25, 2021 – Good Shepard Sunday

Fr. Isaac Slater, OCSO

Good Shepherd Sunday/World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Good Shepherd Sunday/World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called the children of God”

As Christians we are called to live with God’s own life, as his offspring.

Jesus revealed what that looks like—if we live with his life then like him we become stones rejected by the builders.

We stand with, suffer with those excluded by the powerful.

The Church, the communion of those called to live with God’s own life, is meant to be a new kind of human community where the weakest are given the place of greatest honor…

…where the strongest serve those most in need, and the first is last.

True Christian leaders are not preoccupied with chasing donors and political influence, justifying all kinds of worldliness in order to ‘preserve the institution’…

…but with seeking out and serving those most in need

Not just one class of excluded stones but ALL those whom the world rejects.
True shepherds are not mercenary or transactional but extend the communion between the Father and the Son to all.

They embody and invite others into covenant: a relationship of mutual recognition and belonging—“I know mine and mine know me.”

But not only leaders are called to take responsibility—all Christians are called to be good shepherds as all are called to be good Samaritans.

Monks are challenged to be good stewards of the land and goods of the monastery, caring for its tools as if they were “sacred vessels of the altar.”

More importantly, we are “never to turn away from a brother who needs our love.”

In the vision of the Rule, the rivalry and envy that makes the world go round is turned on its head and monks compete only in giving way to one another, in laying down their lives in simple everyday expressions of humility.

We have to take responsibility above all for our personal spiritual conversion: no one can live our spiritual lives for us.

Giving ourselves 100% to our unique spiritual journey is the biggest contribution each of us makes. In our mission as Christians what is most personal and most universal are one.

The particular contours of the renunciation we make in laying down our lives to take them up again as monks are unique to each of us.

But in every case like Jesus, we lay down our lives not to escape or reject them but in order to take them up again, to receive back the hundredfold and place it at the service of those most in need.

We lay down our lives in repentance to take them up again in serving others, repairing the damage we’ve done by our sins.

We lay down our lives on entering the monastery to take them up again by obedience and the search for God.

So on this Good Shepherd Sunday, we recall that whatever the specifics of our Christian vocation, each of us is called to be a good shepherd and lay down our lives for the sheep.

Each of us is called to align ourselves with the stone rejected by the wealthy and powerful…

…that in union with Christ we may become the cornerstone of a new creation.