REFLECTION ON THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER(A) GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY. 7TH MAY, 2017.
? Acts 2:14a.36-41, PS 23, 1Pet 2:20b-25, Gosp Jn 10:1-10.
✍? FR. OGECHUKWU OKPULU.
? JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday. This is because every year, the Gospel Reading is chosen from chapter 10 of St. John’s Gospel, where Jesus speaks of himself as the “Good Shepherd”. In recent times, this day has also become known as Vocation Sunday, a day on which special prayers should be said for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Of all the images of Jesus, that of the good shepherd is probably the loveliest. In the Old Testament, the image of Shepherd is often used for kings. The experience of the Israelites with their leaders was miserable. The Lord through Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel lamented and condemned the attitude of their leaders who failed in their responsibility as Shepherds. Instead of feeding the flock , they cheated and exploited them. He then promised to take care of the sheep himself as the true Shepherd.
In the first reading today, Peter himself, a Good and Chief Shepherd among the college of apostles, a ” primus inter Paris ” ( first among equal) played his leadership role well by being the first to speak on behalf of the rest by the power of the Holy Spirit. His speech yielded a bumper harvest, three thousand persons were converted, the highest number of conversion ever recorded in the history of mankind in a single day.
In the second reading, Peter reminds us of the fact that to be a good shepherd, we must endure ordeals as Jesus our good shepherd did for our sake, the sheep of his flock. He was not selfish with his life and endured every pain. Peter thus says: Christ the good shepherd suffered for us and left an example for us to follow the way he took, He was insulted, tortured and crucified. These are the ordeals, pain and also the qualities of a good shepherd. In spite of all these, a good shepherd offers everything for the sake of his flock.
Jesus in the Gospel reading today points out more qualities of a good shepherd.
?? The one who enters through the gate.
?? The sheep hear his voice.
?? He calls his sheep and leads them.
?? The sheep follow because they know his voice.
We must make Jesus the shepherd of our soul. This simply means getting attuned to his voice through the scriptures, the teachings of the church’s magisterium and the traditions of the church. Jesus is the sheep gate that leads to salvation. He cares about us and calls us each day to follow him.
Beloved in Christ, everyone of us is called in his own way to reflect Christ the good shepherd . As a leader, religious, political, head of department, husband, wife, how do we take care of those entrusted to us? Those working with us and for us, our Juniors in the office, our drivers, cooks, stewards etc, we must show concern on their welfare and treat them with love as Christ the good shepherd has always done to us.
We need to be careful and listen attentively because their are other shepherds whose mission are different from that of Jesus the good shepherd who is the way, the truth and life. To differentiate the voice of the good shepherd from others, we spend quality time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and if we do, there is nothing we shall want, and surely, goodness shall follow us all the days of our life.
Finally, as we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we pray for the grace to be good sheep that would listen attentively to his voice and follow his example of self-giving love. And also for our leaders who are given the responsibility of caring for others. May they follow the example of Jesus who shows his concern and care for his own sheep and was willing to die for his sheep.??
GOD BLESS YOU.??