Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 8
May Each of Us Come to Recognize the Voice of the Good Shepherd in Our Daily Lives, for Jesus Truly Is Our Only Bridge, Our Connection to Our Most Loving Father in Heaven.
We hear in today’s Gospel, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
It was some time ago when I stood outside an abortion clinic in a nearby city praying the Rosary. I could see the faces of so many young women who were going inside to, presumably, have the lives of their babies terminated.
On many of these faces, there were expressions of confusion or bewilderment when they saw the group of us praying for an end to the atrocities of abortion. It was like these women were wandering from car to clinic, like sheep without a shepherd, for they were unable to hear the voice of the Eternal Shepherd calling out to them.
It is this voice which leads us, supports us, and raises us up, which is the common thread which we find weaving itself throughout today’s Readings, quenching our thirst and hunger for God’s Truth – a voice which speaks to us in today’s Gospel, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
One of the most common and most comforting images of Jesus in popular Christian art and in our imagination is that of Jesus as “the Good Shepherd.” And this particular Sunday in the post-Easter season – on this Fourth Sunday of Easter – is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday.
Jesus is that Hope for which each of us yearns in this life! It is the voice of the Good Shepherd which comforts us and consoles us, a voice which strengthens us and gives us hope as you and I travel daily through this vale of tears.
For we hear in today’s Second Reading from the Book of Revelation, “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
What a wondrous faith with which you and I have been gifted – a faith which speaks to our hearts of love, peace, mercy and forgiveness – a faith which is freely offered and freely given to those whose hearts are open and receptive!
For we find within our First Reading how Paul and Barnabas were guided into offering the faith to everyone who would listen, “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
How many of us have taken the time to really – and I mean really think about this faith in which we all share, and in a God who loves us so much that He was willing to send us His Only-Begotten Son, so that He would teach us about the profound wonder of God’s unfathomable Love, so that He might teach us of God’s loving Mercy, even to the point of offering His own life on the Cross for each and every one of us –
– so that we may be guided, so that we may be shepherded throughout this life on this side of Heaven, and that we may be offered the opportunity of being saved and spending our eternity with Him in His Kingdom?
And we are reminded by today’s psalmist, who tells us in our Responsorial Psalm, “We are his people, the sheep of his flock.”
What an awesome God we have! What an awesome faith we live and share together!
And yet, we live in a world which is so misguided, in a world which is so seduced with moral and secular relativism – a world which wishes to remake God in its own image. Is it no wonder that there is so much chaos in the world? Is it no wonder that the very concept of peace is almost non-existent? Is it no wonder that a culture of immorality and death is at the very heart of societies and governments?
And yet, in spite of all this, Our Lord continues to call out to us, the Good Shepherd seeking that which is lost, so that we may all be gathered into one fold, so that, in hearing His voice, He may lead us “to springs of life giving water” – so that He may give us eternal life, and that we may never perish!
Jesus is the Good Shepherd to all His believers, just as shepherds were to their livestocks. A shepherd tended his flock day and night. He would gather his flock into a sheepfold at night for their protection. The sheepfold was some form of a pen or a cave or an area backed by stone walls. Since there were no doors, the shepherd would often sleep or sit in the opening, ready to guard his sheep from harm.
And in John’s Gospel, Jesus illustrates how He, as the Good Shepherd, cares for His flock, protecting them from all that would harm them. He loves and shields them and, if necessary, as Jesus tells us in an earlier verse from John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
As you and I journey through this life with its many ups and downs, and with the many trials and difficulties which we oftentimes must face and bear, to whom do we always turn for help? To whom do we always reach out for in times of need or in times of sorrow?
Even from a very young age, our faith teaches us that each one of us has a God who loves us beyond all human imagining, that we have a God who cares for us so much that He gave His Only-Begotten Son so that we may have life, and have it to the fullest.
A few short weeks ago, we just lived through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ – His suffering, death and resurrection. For many of us who spent time meditating upon the sufferings which He endured, we found ourselves filled with a great sorrow.
And yet, this sorrow gave way to an even greater joy – a hope which fills each one of us with anticipation for ourselves and for our loved ones – that we too shall one day share in the glory which is Christ’s, the wonder and glory of our own resurrection to eternal life!
And it is this hope which reminds us of our Lord’s own promise, a promise that He will seek out those who are lost with the parable that each of us is so familiar:
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
It is this Good Shepherd who IS our Gateway, the means by which we are fed God’s Truth, and the door through which we shall attain eternal happiness!
It is this Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who is our Way, our Truth and our Life. It is Jesus Christ who is our only bridge, our connection to our Most Loving Father in Heaven – a Father who knows each of us personally by name better than we know ourselves, remembering that our Lord once told us, “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”
And out of His unfathomable Love for each of His children, He calls out to us, inviting each of us by name to share in His happiness. And for those of us who hear His voice and respond to His call, we become with Him “one flock, one shepherd.”
As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday today, may we open the ears of our hearts and souls to the voice of the Eternal Word made Flesh. May each of us come to recognize the sound of the Good Shepherd’s voice in our daily lives, as you and I continue our daily pilgrimage through life.
And may we come to trust in the only Shepherd who gave His life, suffering and accepting the tortures and humiliation which went with His Cross – enduring all so that you and I might find peace and joy in the sure and steadfast Truth of the eternal life which awaits each of us who hear and follow His voice.
“…they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)
- “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)
- “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47)
- “Know that the LORD is God, he made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the flock he shepherds.” (Psalm 100:3)
- “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
- “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.” (Psalm 23:1-3)
- “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.” (Psalm 42:2-3a)
- “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1)
- “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Matthew 18:12b-14)
- “…they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16c)
Prayer for the Day
“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
though Your people walk in the valley of darkness,
no evil should they fear;
for they follow in faith the call of the Good Shepherd
whom You have sent for their hope and strength.
“Attune our minds to the sound of His voice,
lead our steps in the path He has shown,
that we may know the strength of His outstretched arms
and enjoy the Light of Your Wondrous Presence forever.
“We ask this in the Name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.”cf. Alternate Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Roman Breviary)