How many of you have been invited to a party? How? Get a phone call? A letter in the mail? An email? I always feel honored when I am invited to share with someone I know at some special event in their lives. Some of you here today were invited by one of the young people receiving First Eucharist. You may have even been invited to the party after Mass.
Here is the great thing about our God, the Good Shepherd. He invites us to his banquet, his party every weekend. He calls us by name; just think about that: Jesus knows each person here by name. Like the shepherd that knows each of his sheep; so, Jesus knows us. An interesting thing about sheep is that they learn to tell the difference between shepherds. A sheep will not follow another shepherd because the shepherd has learned what they look like and the sheep have learned his voice. The same thing needs to be in our lives. We, the sheep of the Lord, need to be able to recognize his voice among all the other voices that are trying to call us away from him. To be honest, we all try to follow the other shepherds. The shepherd of apathy (why bother), the shepherd of laziness (it is too much work to be a Christian), the shepherd of envy and greed; the shepherd of making other things more important than the practice of our faith, the shepherd of stubbornness, and there are many other shepherd’s voices that try to pull us away from the Lord.
Yet, the Good Shepherd does not stop inviting us; he doesn’t give up on us. In fact, the Scripture tells us that He goes looking for us. An odd behavior of a lot of sheep is that they will hide and lie down and not move if they get lost. They will come running when they finally hear the voice of their shepherd. How often do we do this? Our life turns upside down and all of sudden we need the Shepherd but because we are lost we can’t find him. But, He comes looking and finds us and carries us back to the fold..
He calls us by name and keeps inviting us to the banquet of life. I think that He worries about us when we stray from the fold. I think he is sad when He invites us and we run away like stubborn sheep. But, the Shepherd never stops inviting us. The 23rd Psalm tells us that even when we walk in the shadow of the valley, he will be there with His rod and staffâ€¦â€¦we are reminded that he sets a banquet before us. Today, as every Sunday, the Good Shepherd sets a banquet before us and invites us to sit down and be with him. He sets before us the banquet of Life; His eternal presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Good Shepherd stand before us today with his hands outstretched and inviting us to the share His Life and His Banquet? How will we respond?