Beginning with his homily on Good Shepherd Sunday, +Jerome has given extensive teaching concerning the imagery and concept of the Good Shepherd and its practical realisation in the lives of 21C Christians.
Delivered during broadcast Mass on Good Shepherd Sunday 2021
- His Grace reflects on the personification in Christ of God as the Good Shepherd described in the Old Testament, made a present reality in the fulfilment of Christ’s gospel mission, His passion, death and resurrection;
- of the Gospel as vocation i.e. God calling humanity to Himself in the voice of the Good Shepherd, via the incarnate Word and of the necessity of the sheep to discern and recognise the voice of the Good Shepherd through Divine Revelation and the Apostolic tradition and doctrine;
- how to recognise the “hirelings” referred to in the Gospel (John 10) by their nature, behaviour and false teaching, contrasting their doctrine with the constant and consistent doctrine of Christ in His Church via the legacy of His Apostles and their true successors i.e. those still preaching without deviation, the doctrine received from Christ.
Delivered during Mass broadcast on the Feria of (Monday following) Good Shepherd Sunday
- His Grace speaks to vocational discernment i.e. the general vocation of the Gospel to all humanity and then of the particular vocation of individuals;
- of the individuality of our calling as unique persons purposed, conceived and given life by God for His Will, called by name by God to communion with Him;
- of the importance of individuals discerning, honing and disciplining their “skills, gifts, talents, abilities and predispositions” as innate gifts bestowed by God equipping them for the realisation of His Will i.e. of the ultimate good of humanity, realised through communion with Him by extension within the fellowship of the Church;
- how Christian adults and communities should be places where young Christians i.e. younger people, may be helped to discern their “skills, gifts, talents and abilities” guided and mentored by the older and experienced members of the church family, perhaps supplanting or substituting for the lack of individual discernment available in a school system designed for the many rather than the individual;
- of the necessity ideally of church families being collaborations between baptised individuals identifying, nurturing, mentoring, enabling, cooperating and pooling together their particular “gifts, skills, talents and abilities” to realise them for the common good of the Church and of the community they would serve.
Delivered during live broadcast 19th April 2021
- His Grace begins by reflecting on the portrayal of God in the Old Testament as shepherd and then how that metaphor becomes reality in Christ as the Good Shepherd;
- then he shares an anecdote about the experience of a tourist with Middle Eastern shepherds, observing how sheep recognise and follow the voice of their shepherd and not another, but learns that sheep will follow any voice when they are ill and how this relates to so many people who, having stopped learning how to recognise and discern the Good Shepherd’s voice, end up wandering off and getting lost, falling into despair or confusion often through an affliction – of lack of faith, doubt, distraction, self interest etc;
- His Grace then reads from the prophet Ezekiel about false shepherds and God’s statement that He will claim His flock back for His own, Christ becoming the realisation of this prophecy;
- through Divine Revelation and the Apostolic teaching we can learn to know and recognise the voice of the Good Shepherd, but this requires us to study, availing ourselves of the benefit of 2’000 years of collective insight, wisdom, knowledge and lived experience, this is how we become “good sheep” through familiarity with the Scriptures and embrace of the consistency and constancy of the Apostolic teaching within the Church;
- the Holy Spirit enables baptised Christians through the sensus fidelium to innately recognise the authentic voice of Christ when presented with new doctrines – comparing it with the consistency and constancy of the Apostolic tradition;
- to be “good sheep” requires effort on the part of individual Christians themselves to use the God-given attributes of humanity to rise above the maelstrom of emotional and subjective thinking to use the higher intellectual capability to reason above the limits and constraints of our empirical experience of life, to grasp and exercise objective reason to perceive and realise the ultimate good i.e. God’s love;
- adulting as Christians means rising above the subjective and emotional and engaging the rational mind to overcome and subdue feelings, the antithesis to the contemporary zeitgeist which seeks to elevate subjectivity and emotions above facts and objective truth;
- adulting as Christians means being able to recognise one’s identity ultimately in relation to God’s image and growing into His likeness, through humility and subjugation of self will to embracing His Will and recognising the fulfilment of His Will as the ultimate good and purpose of their life;
- being “good sheep” means also to trust in God’s providence, having a balanced appreciation and understanding of incarnational living i.e. a balance between the spiritual and the material and the right appreciation of material things as tools for enabling God’s Will rather than as ends in themselves or for ourselves, to trust in God to provide what is necessary for us to sustain life and share His love;
- that “good sheep” have as the foundation of their lives, prayer – as an expression of communion with God and the means of effecting and realising communion with Him.