“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”

-John 10: 1-2

On the 4th Sunday of Easter, we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Most of us have heard about the parable of The Good Shepherd many times. Perhaps we have become so used to the parable that we forget to marvel at it. Today, the Gospel reading invites us to rediscover the Good Shepherd in our lives and ponder on how we can be an instrument so as to to be a shepherd for someone too. Who is the Good Shepherd and how does this parable speak to us in this present time?

The lamb learns from a very young age about the true shepherd of the flock. It learns this from the older sheep. The sheep keep together as a flock to protect themselves from threats. The sheep are able to recognise different animals and to keep a safe distance from them. The flock is the only protection that it has. The young learn who can be trusted because the shepherd feeds his flock.

As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, we also celebrate Vocations Sunday. Vocations to the religious and priestly order are dropping drastically in Singapore. Does this have to do with what our young are fed? If their constant diet is one of social media, gaming, studies, and assessment workbooks, how will they learn to hear the Shepherd’s voice?

Jesus our Good Shepherd knows our every thought, our past, present and future. In Psalm 139: 1-4, “Lord, you have probed me, you know me, you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. You sift through my travels and my rest; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all.”

However, he is not able to call out to his lambs and sheep because they are feeding on a diet that is not good for them. They do not recognise his voice.

St John Damascene (675-749) a monk, a Theologian and a Doctor of the Church shared this Good Shepherd prayer:

O Christ, my God, You stooped down to me, poor straying sheep, to take me on Your shoulders and have set me down in green pastures. Enable me to proclaim Your word boldly, may Your Spirit’s tongue of flame give perfect freedom to my tongue and make me constantly attentive to Your presence. Be a shepherd to me, O Lord and together with me, be the shepherd of Your sheep, that my heart may not cause me to swerve, either to right or to left.

Sometimes, we use the world’s wisdom to make choices and decisions, instead of basing our discernment process on God’s perspective. We fail to consider the needs of others, but we rather focus on our own wants and desires. We allow our self-centeredness to be a priority above all. When things go wrong, we tend to blame others for causing it. We have followed the thieves and robbers who have distracted us. We fail to listen to our Good shepherd. Do you recall being a thief or robber who led others astray?

Pope Francis reminds us “Let’s not forget that Jesus is the only Shepherd who speaks to us, who knows us, who gives us eternal life and guards us. We are His flock and we must only make an effort to hear His voice, while He scrutinises with love the sincerity of our hearts. And from this constant intimacy with our Shepherd, from this conversation with Him, springs the joy of following Him, allowing ourselves to be led to the fullness of eternal life.”

Dickson and Cindy Rose