Follow the lessons of the Good Shepherd

This Sunday is referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. We read the story Jesus tells about a good shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep. In my 25 years of ministry, I have met both good and bad shepherds.

I have known clergy willing to lay down their lives for their parishes, their families, and their parishioners. I have also known clergy who use their followers for monetary gain, ego boosts, and notoriety. Likewise, I have also come across those who are evil who wish to become clergy so that they can prey on others.

Clergy should take a lesson from Jesus’ story this Sunday. They should be willing to protect their people with everything inside them. It is our sacred calling to be ethical, upright, holy, and protective clergy.

We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and be willing to die that others may live. And Jesus did die so that the people of Israel would not suffer the wrath of the Roman Empire over his radical teachings. Many clergy today, cannot be bothered to pray with someone, much less die for them.

Our patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, wrote, “Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross. The sheep of the Lord followed Him in tribulation and persecution and shame, in hunger and thirst, in infirmity and temptations and in all other ways; and for these things they have received everlasting life from the Lord. Wherefore it is a great shame for us, the servants of God, that, whereas the Saints have practiced works, we should expect to receive honor and glory for reading and preaching the same.” (Robinson 1905)

As Saint Francis points out, we should be ashamed of seeking glory and honor for doing what our Lord commands us to do. We should instead count it all glory to suffer for the sake of the calling. We should welcome persecution for the sake of protecting God’s people.

And we should stand up against those who attack, marginalize, and abuse those who are vulnerable in our world.

Will you join me on this journey toward protecting all people?

Pax et Bonum,

Father Greer