Many Folds, One Flock

Homily at Nazareth House on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B.

The Seven Word Sermon: The one flock exists in many folds.Nine variant images of a sheepfold

Are we united or are we scattered? In today’s Gospel, Jesus says two things which pull in different directions. One points to unity: “There will be only one flock and one shepherd.” But the other speaks of diversity: “I must lead other sheep which are not of this fold.”

For the first disciples of Jesus, they might have understood this as meaning Jesus came not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles.

Today we might hear a message about how Jesus relates to the different kinds of Christian churches.

But I think there is also a difference between the FLOCK and the FOLD. Jesus wants to gather all the sheep into one flock, but perhaps not all to live in the same fold.

What makes them one united flock? It is the name of Jesus. To be part of this flock, each member must accept that the Lord is indeed their shepherd.

What makes them different folds? Often it is geography – each parish gathers the sheep in a different location. But the City of Cardiff now has a rich mix of Catholic folds – an Eastern Rite congregation in St Cuthbert’s, Polish priests at St Patrick’s, services in the Indian language, Malayalam, at St Joseph’s – and ourselves worshipping in Welsh here at Nazareth House.

Because our fold is part of a greater flock, we have a responsibility to help provide shepherds for that flock. This weekend, Archbishop George asks all our churches to contribute to the cost of training our future priests and remembering them in our prayers. Jonathan, our own priest-in-training, will have more to say about this at the end of Mass. So I will stop here to allow more time for him – but please keep him and our other diocesan seminarians in your prayers.

For more reflections from Pastor Gareth and Jonathan on Good Shepherd Sunday, tune in to BBC Radio Wales Celebration