Homily for May 7, 2017
Today, being the fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday or Vocations Sunday. On this Sunday, we reflect on how Jesus, being such an excellent shepherd offered his very life for us his sheep and continues to be our Good Shepherd who provides for us.
Also, on this fourth Sunday, we reflect and pray for our earthly shepherds; the bishops, priests, deacons and religious as well as those who feel the call to become shepherds in the Church. Hence today is also called vocations Sunday.
The very connotation of a Good shepherd indicates that there is a bad shepherd. In fact, Jesus makes this distinction in the ending part of our Gospel passage this morning when he noted: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.
The bad shepherd is a thief, he only pretends to take care of the sheep whereas his real aim is to steal, to kill and to destroy. In the church today and even amongst our leaders in society, there are bad shepherds.
The prophet Ezekiel addresses such shepherds in this way: “Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep.
“The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.” Ezekiel 34:2-4.
They say, power intoxicates. Pope Francis in a short video clip describes being in power or being a shepherd like one who drinks gin on an empty stomach. “You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.”
As leaders, presidents of church societies, zonal chairmen, coordinators of groups in the church, pastors, preachers, catechists, priests religious, in whatever capacity we find ourselves in charge of people, let us imitate Jesus whose goodness derives from his humility and tenderness.
The logo of the just concluded jubilee year of mercy was a picture of Jesus carrying a person on his shoulders. That logo perfectly describes Jesus who goes out all the way to search for a lost sheep even if it means sacrificing for him. As Peter reminds us in our second reading today: “Christ suffered for you…when he was reviled, he did not revile in return, when he suffered, he did not threaten… by his wounds you have been healed.” 1st Peter 2.
A good shepherd is one is not selfish or self-centred but is willing to give even the last drop of his blood for the benefit of the sheep. The vocation to the priesthood or religious life is not a comfortable job, it is a life of sacrifice.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen once noted: “The reason why Christ was born was not to live but to die, and the only reason why anybody should opt for the priesthood or religious life is to die…
The priest or sister lays down his/her life for the parishioners and congregation. He sacrifices his feelings, his desire to procreate, his desire to be rich etc. for the sake of showing Christ to others.”
If you feel interested in becoming a priest or a sister simply because of the outward luxury you notice in the priesthood, the beautiful car(s), nice shoes, attractive vestments, the seemingly undisturbed life style, the single status and so on, then know that all these things are mere accidents, they do not constitute the essence of the priesthood or religious life.
Jesus says, I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly. This abundant life is what our responsorial psalm sings about today. It is a life without lack, a life wherein our soul is ever fresh and revived; a life of real happiness.
The abundant life Jesus brings is a life which involves being guided along the right path; that is, the path of obedience to God’s commandments. If we fail to follow the path that Jesus lays down for us, we cannot enjoy his protection.
Living a Godly life involves walking through difficult roads (valley of the shadows of death), but knowing that we are in the light; that our conscience is clear gives us the assurance that Jesus is there to protect us.
Yes, we would have enemies. The world will hate us for following Jesus but as the psalmist says, right before our enemies, God will set a table for us, anoint our heads and our cups will overflow with abundance because God’s goodness and kindness remains with those who are the sheep of his pasture.
Finally, dear friends, it is very easy to assume that since we all come to church, Jesus is our shepherd and we are his sheep. But this is not true. “Not all those who call me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 7:21.
The sheep of Jesus are those who are capable of recognising his voice and following his commands; if we continue to live in sin, we are not his sheep. No wonder St. Peter says to us this morning: “Repent, and be baptized… save yourself from this crooked generation.”
Turn away from following the voice of the world, the latest trends, the latest fashion, etc. return to the word of God, return to living according to the standards of the Bible, let your thoughts, words, dressing and lifestyle be pure, free from immorality, evil and worldliness.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you are my shepherd, may I never lack. Amen
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. Bible Study: Acts 2:14-41, 1 Peter 2:20-24 and John 10:1-10).*