Fourth Sunday of Easter: ‘I Know Mine and Mine Know Me’

There’s an old cliche that says, “To know me is to love me.” Most of us believe if other people really knew us, they couldn’t help but love us. In today’s gospel on this Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus makes the same connection – and helps us find both. His shepherd imagery may be lost on us 21st-century Christians, but the truth remains. Pope Francis used the image five years ago when he counseled his priests to “be shepherds with the smell of the sheep.”

The shepherd Jesus models himself after was common in first century Palestine. Born to his task, a shepherd grew into his calling by being a shepherd. It was a 24/7 vocation, providing protection and care for his flock as it wandered the Judean landscape, searching for grass and water, and avoiding the attack of wolves and thieves. The sheep became the shepherd’s friends and he, literally, knew them by the name he gave each. The shepherd became the symbol of constant vigilance, fearless courage and patient love.

This “knowledge” between shepherd and sheep – and knowledge for the first-century Israelites – was not the head knowledge of Greek philosophers. It was a heart knowledge. For the Judeans, to know was to experience. To know was to feel for and with the other. To know was to accept the other. And so we hear Jesus cite not only the mutual knowing of he and his sheep. He also speaks of that same mutual relationship with his Father. Knowing and love grow together; they mutually enrich each other. This knowing-loving relationship elicits a total surrender of life to and for the one he loves. This Good Shepherd will lay down his very life to protect his sheep from those who wish to steal them or do them harm. And he will call other sheep who will hear in his voice an attractiveness, a goodness worthy of following. Then this Good Shepherd will know the fulfillment of his only desire, and the Father’s, too: there will be one flock.

This heart knowledge is what Peter, in the first reading, desires for all of Israel, when they see the healing done “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean.” It is this heart knowledge – this mutual knowing-loving – that John confirms for his readers in today’s second reading. We are God’s children now; the more we know God, the more we will be like the One we love.

We belong to our Good Shepherd who knows us by heart, and loves us. Dare we say the same of Him?

— Mary Flick, CSJ


Once again this year, I would like to extend the invitation for Sisters to join in building community with me here in St. Louis, for a period of time during the summer. It can be the experience you seek: Retreat. Sabbath Time. Vacation. R&R. Embodied Commitment to Sustainability. Emersion in an Urban Ecovillage. Nurturing body, spirit, the future of religious life.
We’ll have to work around the house schedule which is a little crazy this year – but then when is life not crazy. Let’s do what we can.
Here’s a link to a prior invitation. If you’re interested, drop me a line and we’ll talk more.
ALSO – if any women discerning religious life would like to spend several weeks in a live-in experience, let me know and we will see what we can arrange for that too. We have several houses where you might be able to join us.

Intent and Impact

In the book club/conversation group to which I belong–Witnessing Whiteness through the YWCA here in St. Louis–we spent some time talking about intent and impact in the work of racial justice.  As a white person, I can have the best intent result in a hurtful impact.  I have been sitting with that difficult truth for some weeks, recognizing over and over places where I didn’t intend to do harm, but where harm was done.  Sometimes, in working with students at school, the same concept comes up.  “But, I didn’t mean to hurt her,” a student might say as we are working towards restoration after a conflict.  “True, but she is still hurt.”

While intent and impact have been most alive in my thoughts regarding racial reconciliation, it has also jumped into my community experience.  As a young sister, I can’t fully understand the experience of religious life of my sisters who lived before and through Vatican II and who have large numbers of sister peers.  And those sisters can’t understand what this life is like for me.  As much as we explain, as much as we listen, as much as we love one another, as much as we want the best for one another we’ll never quite get it.  And, regardless of our intent, we’ll sometimes hurt each other in what we say and do.

It would be easy for me as a white woman with good intentions to check out and give up knowing that I’ll never be able to understand the experiences of people of color and that I’ll always be working to mitigate the impact of my actions.  And it would be easy for me as a young sister to check out knowing that my dear sisters will never understand my experiences and that I’ll never understand theirs; and that, even though we love each other, we will hurt each other.

If that hurt is inevitable–if we can’t control our impact–what do we do?  We keep at it.  We listen with patience and curiosity.  We trust and give even when we don’t understand.  Ideally we have conversations before decisions are made, not after.  We check in along the way.  And we apologize, a lot.  We keep loving and we keep trying.  I know that a loving intent does not negate the impact of an action.  But maybe it allows for a little more compassion, a little more willingness to forgive, to not give up on ourselves, to not give up on each other.

I’ll keep trying if you will.  We can only do it together.

–S. Sarah



MORE Weekend – Vocation Discernment Retreat

— by Sr. Amy Hereford

Come and See!
Come and Pray!

Come and Serve!

MORE Weekend – vocation discernment retreat.
June 8-10, 2018,
St. Louis, MO
The Sisters of St Joseph Vocation Team is inviting women interested in religious life to join us for a weekend event June 9-11, 2017 in St. Louis Missouri.
The weekend is to have an opportunity for sisters and interested women to share some time in community, prayer and volunteer ministry for a short period of time.We will have a time for Ministry at volunteer sites where sisters are active.We will explore the core value of the Sisters of St. Joseph: being One with God and Neighbor. Our congregation is oriented to the unifying love of God and to bringing about our oneness with God and oneness with neighbor.There will be time for reflection and prayer with the sisters. We will focus on discernment and the call to unifying love.

And finally, there will be time to Engage with the sisters in community, meals and celebration.

With all these components, we are calling it our MORE weekend:

One with God and Neighbor
Reflection and Prayer

If you, or someone you know is interested in religious life, click here for more specifics. We would love to have you with us.

Contact Sr Clare Bass:  314-371-4667