Each year, on this 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and reflect on what a good shepherd is like.
A shepherd is one who leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects and protects his flock. This is indeed the image of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, who devotedly takes care of his flock.
“I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
In the Bible, we can find many descriptions of God as the True Divine Shepherd. Let us draw some of these images:
- He knows his sheep and his sheep hears his voice. Jesus knows each one of us. He loves us as who we are, with our limitations, needs, faults and merits: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1)
- He is attentive to his sheep. Jesus speaks to us daily through his Word, friends, and through the events of our life: “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down” (Ezekiel 34:15)
- He gives eternal life to his sheep. Jesus receives us into his sheepfold: “I will rescue them… and gather them… and will bring them into their own land” (Ezekiel 34:12b, 13)
- He supplies food and inner healing for his sheep. Jesus takes care of us through the Sacraments: “You prepare a table before me under the eyes of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5)
- He protects his sheep. Jesus prays for us. He places us in the arms of his Father. He guides us and sends his angels to watch over us: “I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged” (Ezekiel 34:22a)
- He searches for his stray lambs and heals the sick ones. Jesus comforts and heals our wounds and strengthens us: “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:16)
- He dies for his sheep. Jesus lays down his life in expiation for the sins of all humanity: “I am the Good Shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11)
In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas were wonderful examples as the first to hear the Word of God; and by their preaching, shepherded to the Gentiles who receive them with delight. Our mission, commissioned by the Lord to “ Go out into the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) is a continuation of Jesus’ ministry of salvation. Is the seed of the Gospel still being sown?
And in the second reading, from the Book of Revelation, St. John the evangelist describes a vision of a lamb. This lamb is our Good Shepherd, the One who offered himself on the cross – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – for us all.
“…the lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water…” (Revelation 7:17a)
Jesus, the Passover Lamb, was once slain to take our sins away. But now in his glorified form, He “will wipe away all tears from their eyes”. He will shelter us back safely to the life-giving waters of eternity. He will call us into a full communion with him in glory, and all creatures will sing his praises forever.
As we look up to Jesus, let us be encouraged to become good shepherds and good sheep, good leaders and good followers. And let us pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Jesus our Good Shepherd, we trust in you.
Written by: Ministry of Lectors