“I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.” John 10:14.
We celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and honor the one who directs and values those in his fold and rescues even the little ones who stray.
Following Easter, the liturgy models the very person of Christ who guides our journey.
Long ago, a friend of mine told me – that the closer we are to the Good Shepherd and his remarkable life, and the more we listen to him in prayer and reflection, only then will his direction have bearing or impact on the course of our lives.
“Tell all your friends, I am kind,” these are the words of a young person, Catherine Violet Hubbard.”
This past week, I came across a piece by writer Jennifer Hubbard, the mother of six-year-old Catherine Violet. She a victim of gun violence at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Jennifer Hubbard has a simple, short reflection on the Psalm refrain: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” I would like to share her message with you.
These many years since the tragic shooting, Jennifer speaks mostly about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a park reserve in Newtown, Connecticut. This sacred space provides a memorial for the “little lamb” that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has tucked into the fold of his arm, caring and rescuing his young.
In her vision for the 34 acres of meadows, woodlands, and trails in Newtown, Jennifer Hubbard explains that the memorial is a “place of compassion and acceptance where all creatures will know they are safe and people are kind, just as Catherine would have wanted.” She continues:
“I gasped when I reached the top of the hill. The sheep and their lambs had gathered at a patch of greening grass and were splayed across the flat of the rock, soaking up the warmth of the sun in a backyard turned pasture. It was an unusual place and an unlikely way to discover the little one I was desperately missing.”
In her young life, Catherine was kind and compassionate toward bugs, birds, pets, farm animals, and the memorial reserve provides a learning space to promote the care for “all creatures great and small.”
In Catherine’s own words, when caring for her animal companions, this youngster remarked once, “Tell all your friends I am kind.”
In the past few weeks and 2021 alone, there have been 147 mass shooting as of April 16, defined as those incidents in which four or more people were killed: in Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Boulder, and Orange, California, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Allen, Texas, Essex, Maryland, Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Frankly, there is too much grief and too much sorrow for families or a nation to bear. What can we do? How do we change minds? How do we heal broken lives? In her reflection on the psalm, Jennifer Hubbard concludes:
“We, she and I, are his lambs. The wolves will howl, and the lion will lurk, and the Good Shepherd stands guard. I shall not fear. The path will be treacherous and the way obstructed, but the Good Shepherd, with rod and staff in hand, leads.
I shall not wander. My heart will bleed with sadness and longing, yet the Good Shepherd prepares a table before my eyes – even in the most unlikely of places. For it was on that day that I finally realized it: The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” is a hymn of confidence, thanksgiving, but mostly a song of pilgrimage to that eternal temple, the New Jerusalem. It is here the Lord welcomes home and embraces his children.”
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.
To learn more about the CVH Animal Sanctuary, and to write to Jennifer Hubbard, go to:
For this homily, I drew from an article by Jennifer Hubbard entitled “Good Shepherd Sunday,” in Magnificat Magazine, April 25, 2021. Also, Randell Beaches’ “A Newtown Mother Looks to Fulfill Her Little Girl’s Dream,” appearing in Connecticut Magazine (Dec. 23, 2019) was most insightful.