Home » Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 25th April 2021 – Good Shepherd Sunday

Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 25th April 2021 – Good Shepherd Sunday

Dear sisters and brothers,

When I was part of the parish mission team with Sion Community I would regularly give input on the love of God the Father.  As part of what I preached I would often share a video about committed Christians, Dick and Rick Hoyt.  Dick sadly passed away just last month, but as Rick’s father he showed remarkable love, seeking to share the love of God the Father with his son.

Rick had been born with cerebral palsy, which left him severely physically disabled.  However, as time went on it became clear that he was mentally alert and that his lack of speech was not due to any mental disability, but rather another aspect of his physical limitations.  With the wonders of modern technology, using just one finger, Rick was eventually able to communicate with a computer.  When a friend was left paralysed, Rick asked if father and son could take part in a race together to raise money for him.  He wanted to prove that life went on, no matter your disability. After that initial race, Rick said that he never felt so alive as when he’d participated in that race, and so Dick determined to enable his son to feel that way again, to live life to the full.

Together, father and son entered over 1,200 races of one kind or another over nearly forty years, the most notable of which being six Iron Man races.   These are triathlons that are widely considered to be one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order.  Dick swam, pulling Rick in a boat behind him; he cycled, with Rick strapped to a seat on the front of his bike; and he ran, pushing Rick in a wheelchair all the way.  And he did this so that Rick could feel as fully alive as he possibly could, despite his disability.

Why am I sharing this story with you?  Well, because in today’s Gospel we are introduced to the character of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.  As father Dick laid down his own desires and wants for the good of his son, so Jesus laid down his Godhead to become one of us, that he could enable us to live life to the full, lifting off our shoulders any burden of guilt that we might feel as he brings us home to the fulness of God the Father’s love through his own life, death and resurrection.  As Dick pulled and pushed Rick through those challenges at great personal cost, so Jesus does the same for us, because he loves us even more deeply than Dick loved his son.  As our second reading tells, he lavishes his love up us by enabling us, letting us, be called God’s children.

So, let us thank God for the depth of his love, revealed most fully on the Cross, and let us thank him also for all the ways that we share that love with each other, as each of seeks to be Jesus, as Dick Hoyt did, to those in our lives who may be in any kind of need.

With every blessing,

Simon

PS If you want to watch a moving video about Dick and Rick Hoyt go to: https://youtu.be/65cwNrMvysQ