FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(White) Cycle A/Year I (May 7, 2017)
Acts 2:14a, 36-41/1 Pt 2:20b-25/Jn 10:1-10
One of the simplest, most common but noblest professions in the Old Testament times was the shepherding. Everywhere in the Old Testament books we can always find a figure of a shepherd. Even the outstanding figures in the Old Testament like Abraham, Moses and David were shepherds. The importance of the shepherds in the Bible is even more emphasized in the Gospels wherein the shepherds were the first ones to hear the good news of salvation announced by not less than the angels of heaven. They were the first ones together with the wise men from the East to witness the Messiah born in a manger in Bethlehem. This importance reaches its climax when Jesus Christ proclaimed in the gospel that He Himself was the Shepherd.
In the gospel, Jesus Christ proclaimed Himself to be the Shepherd as He entered into the sheepfold through the gate not like the thieves who entered into it by climbing through the fence. Indeed, Jesus Christ was the Shepherd of the people of Israel since He taught in the broad day light through the streets of Galilee and Jerusalem without fear but with authority. The people went to Him, listened to Him and followed Him. Christ, as the Shepherd, cared for the people as He healed the sick, fed the hungry, opened the eyes of the blind, made the lame walk, brought back life to the dead and proclaimed the good news to the poor. On the other hand, the Pharisees were the thieves since they were interested only in what they could get from the people namely the respect, obedience and tithe. They were not true shepherds as they did not teach them the Law; they rather taught them the human laws which eclipsed the importance of the Divine Law. They did not feed the people with the truths of the Bible.
If Jesus Christ is the Shepherd, then we are the sheep. It is noteworthy that the people of God both the old –the people of Israel– and the new –the Church– are likened to sheep. The sheep are the most submissive animals. They are harmless and easy to guide. A shepherd can lead the sheep numbering to thousand with only the help of the dogs. In the Bible, they are the most common animals being offered to God as a sacrifice. From there we can see that as members of the sheep of Christ, we Christians must be submissive and obedient to Christ, who is kind and holy.
As Christians, sheep of Christ, we must acknowledge Him as our only Shepherd. The problem with us is that many times we do not act as good sheep. We go astray in our lives as we like to commit sins and to ignore the ways of Christ and of His Church. We even disregard Christ as our Shepherd and follow our hearts’ desires for money, power and fame. Our personal ambitions and selfish desires serve as our only shepherds. But these are false shepherds for they do not lead us to true life but rather lead us to disappointment and despair. Disheartened by the problems in life, we get lost and do not know where to go like a stray lamb. The good news is that Christ, as the Good Shepherd, never abandons us but seeks us. He even sacrifices His very life to find us and bring us back to the Heavenly Sheepfold. Now, as the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, the Shepherd shares with us His divine life, converts us into children of God and brings us to the paternal embrace of the Heavenly Father.
The grace of Easter which is our union with the Supreme Shepherd, God Himself through Jesus Christ, can only be preserved if we stay united with Jesus and His Church. To be faithful to Jesus without being faithful to His Church is a fraud. The Risen Christ shares His teachings, grace and mercy through His Church. We must then never leave but must be actively faithful to our Catholic Church, the sheepfold of Christ, so that we may always become one with our Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Let us ask the intercession of Mary, the mother of the Good Shepherd, so that like her we may never be detached from Him and with Him we may find peace and joy in this present world and eternal life in the Sheepfold of God.