Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)
World Day of Prayer for Vocations
Sunday, 22nd April 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: John 10:11-18
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
“For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from the Father.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Every year, on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Church invites us to reflect on this beautiful Jesus’ description of himself as the Good Shepherd. In the Scripture, Jesus was given titles like the Son of God, Lord, Teacher, Messiah, and King. But it was through Jesus’ words that we learned this image of him as the Good Shepherd. In today’s Gospel text, our Lord Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.” This description of our Lord Jesus about himself is most appealing to many of us as it is indeed consoling. It conveys Jesus’ tenderness, his compassion, and care, his concern and love for his flock. Such an image is reassuring for us. In this time and season, this is what we need to hear – that Jesus is with us, supporting and guiding us on our journey through life. When life is beset with problems and or personal challenges occur this image of Jesus the Good Shepherd reassures and consoles us. It tells us that God will never abandon us, that we are not alone in our struggles and that Jesus is supporting and holding us up.
This is the same reason why that old story – Footprints in the Sand- became very popular. People see Jesus as their refuge. When we feel so desolate and alone, Footprints in the Sand is something that we should contemplate upon. For during those moments of trials that Jesus carries us in his arms like a good shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”
When we are feeling sad and low, think of the love of Jesus. He loves us unconditionally not because we are worthy of it nor we have a right to that love. But simply because Jesus is love personified. St. Paul puts it beautifully, he said to the Romans, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd and I am ready to lay down my life for my sheep.” He really did it. Christ accepted death willingly and voluntarily, i.e. that we might be saved. Christ died for us. John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Therefore, when Christ gave us this image of a Good Shepherd, he wanted to impart to us that message of a perfect love of the Son of God. Despite our unworthiness and sinfulness, He loved us first that He might restore us our identity as children of God and that we too might become imitators of His love.
Therefore, the celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday is teaching us important lessons in life.
First, Just as Jesus is a good shepherd to us, we, too, are expected to be good shepherds. True shepherding is a life of total self-giving. In a way, we are all shepherds. As pastor of our Church, I am the shepherd of this flock. I am, therefore expected to be a good shepherd. I am expected to live a good and holy life. Jesus, the good shepherd, should be reflected in my dealing with people and in my personal life. If not then I am not being true to my calling.
Parents, you are shepherds in your own home. Therefore, you are expected to be good and loving parents. You are expected to set good examples for your children. You are expected to guide and lead the children to the truth and to the faith.
This reminds me of a story as related by Bro. Andrew Maria: A young boy caught stealing is brought before a judge, who cross-examines him.”How old are you?” the judge asks him. “Ten years old.” “Who taught you to steal?” “My Father.” Upon hearing this, the judge orders the arrest of the father and sets the boy free.
“Your honor, why are you sending me to jail for my son’s crime?” asks the father.
The judge answers unequivocally, “One who teaches another to commit a crime is a worse criminal.”
Second, The celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday is teaching us to be imitators of Jesus service, sacrifice, and love. Being loved by Christ is the ground of becoming loving. Our awareness that we are loved despite our flaws and weaknesses should be the reason for us to be more loving, more accepting and forgiving.