This is from our “Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Explained” series written for our March 2020 Parish Newsletter by Laura Nelson, Coordinator of Children’s Catechesis.

In the Atrium, the message of God’s love for us is ever present; it’s in the Mass, in the Bible, in the way we meditate on God’s Word. But, during Lent, one of the ways we learn of God’s love for us is through the Parable of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of John (John 10:1-16).

In true Atrium fashion, we approach this parable very intentionally with the children.  We meditate on the words of the parable together and we ponder what they mean.  We ask the children questions as we unpack the Scripture together but we NEVER give them the answers. We lead them to the deeper meaning of the parable but it’s up to them to connect the dots.

  • “Why did Jesus say He was the Good Shepherd?”
  • “What do you think it means to be a Good Shepherd?”
  • “The Good Shepherd calls His sheep by name. What does that mean?”
  • “He lays down His life for the sheep. Why does He do that?”

Then, after a period of reflection on how wonderful it would be to be one of the sheep who are so loved and cared for by the Shepherd, we ask the children, “If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who are the sheep?”

As adults, we may think it’s obvious who the sheep are. But, to the children, this is a very difficult question. It challenges them to think about the parable and the Shepherd much more deeply.  Often it takes weeks or even months for them to realize who the sheep are. As an adult working alongside the children, it takes a lot of patience and self-control to wait for the child. But, when the moment of realization finally comes, the joy and excitement that comes with it make all worthwhile.