Fr Frank’s Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter 2024

By Fr Frank Brennan SJ, 20 April 2024
A view of the statue of Christ, the Good Shepherd, at The Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B, and Good Shepherd Sunday

Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 117(118):1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

21 April 2024


On this fourth Sunday of Easter, we hear the gospel of the good shepherd. It is an appropriate occasion to mark the World Day of Prayer for Vocations – praying that each of us might know what it is we are called to be and do, here and now, and in the future. For some of us, that will be a career choice, a lifestyle choice or relationship choice with long term ramifications. For others who have long made those choices, it will be a decision what to do in retirement or with our spare time and resources. Each of us has some calling to be a shepherd for others while always being shepherded by Jesus. There will be unexpected moments when any of us can be called to be shepherd even though we mostly see ourselves being shepherded by others, whether in our family, in the church or in the world.


In today’s gospel, the good shepherd is compared with the hired help. The good shepherd knows her sheep well. She does whatever she can to protect them. She will even lay down her life for her sheep.

The hired person does not know the sheep. He is paid to do a job. But he will not put himself at risk. His first task is to protect himself. And good luck to him; so he should.

When the wolf comes, the good shepherd and the hired help respond very differently.

We are all still reeling from the horrific stabbing events in Sydney these past days. The Bondi shopping centre is once again open for regular trading. But there has been time for us all to reflect on the differing responses to the very disturbed man crazily wielding the knife. Most people fled as quickly as they could, sensibly wanting to save their lives.

We give thanks for the good shepherds who were there that day.

NSW Police Inspector Amy Scott was the first police officer on the scene. The day after the tragedy, Kevin Morton, the head of the Police Association of NSW, said: “Amy is content with what she had to do. I spoke to her last night and again this morning and she said, ‘It was a night with not a lot of sleep’. She knows she has been tagged a hero but to her she was doing her job. Even (after she shot the attacker), she immediately began applying CPR – that just shows you the dedication of the person and her incredible act of heroism – even then her main concern was for someone who had fallen.” There she was just ‘doing her job’ and applying CPR to someone who minutes before was on a senseless murderous rampage.

When Ashlee Good was stabbed, her only thoughts were for her baby Harriet. Having been mortally wounded, Ashlee threw Harriet into the arms of two brothers Joe and Rick Tomarchio who then stayed, trying to stem the blood flow of mother and daughter, comforting the mother as best they could.

Any mother can understand Ashlee’s immediate reaction, thinking first of their child. All of us can identify the good shepherd moments in what was done by Inspector Amy Scott and by the Tomarchio brothers.

Jesus is our good shepherd – the one who gave his life for each of us, the Risen one who accompanies us no matter what the situation. All of us need to face situations of suffering and injustice, situations beyond our control. The consolation of today’s readings is that God has lavished love on us ‘by letting us be called God’s children’. He is here to shepherd us no matter what the shape of the wolf at the door. He is here to call us into the fulness of life, following our vocation whatever it may be.


Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in men;
it is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.


Blessed in the name of the Lord
is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
You are my God, I thank you.
My God, I praise you.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
for his love has no end.



From the start of 2024, Fr Frank Brennan SJ will serve as part of a Jesuit team of priests working within a new configuration of the Toowong, St Lucia and Indooroopilly parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Frank Brennan SJ is a former CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA). Fr Frank’s latest book is An Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Considering a Constitutional Bridge, Garratt Publishing, 2023.


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