Fourth Sunday of Easter

1.05. 2023 | Homily


The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter are available HERE.

It is a blessing to visit the Holy Land of Palestine, Jordan and Israel, because when you are there you can see many of the places and the things which are mentioned in the Scriptures we read every time we come together in church to worship God. I never understood today’s Gospel until I was on a hillside in Israel looking down at broad, green pastures. In some fields there were rings of stones with walls just less than a metre high, and a gap about a metre wide. Each ring of stones was a sheepfold – a seyðabyrgi or seyðarætt – a place where a shepherd can gather his flock for the night. There are not too many of them, but they are not too far from each other, so a shepherd could easily decide where to take his flock each night.

If I have understood things correctly, the shepherds in the Holy Land stand on the ring of stones where the gap is. They have baggy trousers, and when their animals enter the sheepfold, they rub against the shepherd’s trousers, so his clothing begins to smell like his animals. That is one of the ways shepherds and their animals recognise each other: after a while, they really do smell like each other. Ten years ago, priests around the world were surprised when Pope Francis told us that we should smell like our sheep. He was telling priests and bishops that we should not leave our parishes or our dioceses too often. We should spend more time with our sheep, like the shepherds that Jesus knew. If we smell like our sheep, that is a sign that we spend time with them, and hopefully a sign that we know them and they know us.

The other way animals recognise their shepherd is that they know his or her voice. You can often see sheep and goats running when the shepherd calls. They know the shepherd is there to look after them, so if he or she calls, they know the best thing is to follow, either to eat or drink, or to go towards the sheepfold where they will sleep for the next night. If they follow a voice they do not know, they could be stolen or even killed, but if the shepherd they know calls them, they know they are safe, because they know he or she will look after them.

This is the relationship Jesus has with the people who follow Him. He tells them He is their shepherd, and He is sure that they will follow Him because they recognise Him, and He makes a wonderful promise: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full”. In the Christian community, leaders are often called shepherds or pastors; we hope – and Jesus Himself hopes – that our leaders will behave the way He did, and that they will want the same for their sheep as He does. Pray for the leaders in our Church. Pope Francis is getting old and frail, but he is still full of energy. Even when he was in hospital just before Easter, he baptised a baby there. We pray for Pope Francis and our Bishop, Czesław Kozon, at every Mass, but it is a good idea to include them in our private prayers, too. It is also a good idea to pray for the priests who have been sent to serve you. If you have come to me for Confession, you will know that I always ask everyone who comes to pray for me, and when people tell me they don’t know what I mean, I say, “ask God to help Father Peter to be a good priest”. I have been asking people that for nearly forty-six years, and I will always ask people to pray for me in that way.

Fr. Peter


Fr. Peter spoke to Bishop Czesław recently about the relaxation of COVID restrictions.

He informed him that we can return to a normal use of holy water.

Regarding the question of Holy Communion, Bishop Kozon said a decision was made at a meeting of the Council of Priests that people present at Mass when the number is very small may be offered Holy Communion from the chalice as well as the host. We shall continue to have Holy Communion from the chalice at Masses in Kerit, but will not have it in Masses in Mariukirkjan for the time being. This may change in the future.



Share This