The Good Shepherds

The Good Shepherd and the Cornerstone – Institute Id of Christ the ... 

(This post was written for Easter Sunday in the First Spring of the Covid pandemic -New York had Morgue trucks and Italy was hit exceptionally hard. Most of Christendom stayed home from church.)
We should not have to, but sometimes we must state the plain thing.

There is one Good Shepherd, and many lesser shepherds. And there are wolves who wear a murdered sheep's skin as their clothing as an attempt to fool other sheep. 
Sheep can be very stupid.

But to tell the shepherd from the wolf is not hard. 
And the examples of each are plentiful.

This Easter morning the sheep should all be safely in their folds with their lambs. 
Good shepherds have encouraged this, and stand at the gate protecting.  
Wolves have called them out into a dangerous field. 

Wolves have no patience, wolves don't like to be challenged.
They howl. A lot.
They yell.
"You are not the boss of me!" 
"God is my special buddy and will contradict all the rules of God's very own natural world for me!"
"Anyone who doesn't agree with me - doesn't listen to me - is obviously not a buddy of God."
What they really want, of course is to skin some more sheep. Because too much is never enough. And Easter Sunday is their biggest day of the year. Biggest crowds, fullest offering plates. The most people looking at them, and listening to them, while they howl their heads off.

The good shepherds are standing by bedsides and in doorways, and are quietly talking on phones. Their patience is long. They do not yell. They do not lie, but they do comfort.

In Italy, many dozens of priests have died, and more will die.  
Hundreds have come out of retirement to do the hardest work in the wards of contagion.
When they know it will very likely kill them.

 This is one such shepherd's testimony.

“I blessed him and absolved him from sins, he squeezed my hand tightly and I stayed there with him until his eyes closed,” the Priest said. “And then I said the prayer for the dead, and then I changed my gloves and continued my rounds.” (NYT)

Multiply by thousands. 

The Priest knows, what I know, and what you know; that God will receive their souls to God's breast with love and care - with or without the Priest. But the Shepherd knows his flock, and when they were born - the church was there. And when they married the church was there. And they have always believed that when they died, the church would be there. And to deny them that would be a betrayal of the worst order. 

So the shepherd makes the round of his dying sheep. And lays down his own life.

It is so easy to tell them apart.