Acts 4:8-12; I Jn. 3:1-2; Jn. 10:11-18Fr Cantalamessa on theGood Shepherd
THEME: JESUS IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD!
Once a wealthy parishioner invited a priest and his sacristan for a dinner with other friends. Before dinner the august audience sang solos and played musical instruments. Later they all insisted the priest to sing a song. The priest, an accomplished singer himself, sang “The Lord is my Shepherd” with exquisite expression. The applause was loud and long. Finally, it was the turn of the poor sacristan. “I’m illiterate!” said he, “I can only say the same psalm that Father taught me!” After sometime the sacristan closed his eyes, bowed his head and began, “The Lord is my shepherd…” So sublime and spiritual was the sacristan’s rendition that all the guests were moved to tears. Holding his tears back the priest whispered, “I know the song, you know the Shepherd!”
Today is a special Sunday in Eastertide titled, ‘The Good Shepherd Sunday.’ Jesus is our Good Shepherd and he invites all of us to be like him – to be good shepherds! In the first reading (Acts 4:8-12) – Peter, the First Shepherd filled with the Holy Spirit, fearlessly witnesses to the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. He makes this declaration that the crippled beggar was healed “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (Acts 4:10), that “Jesus is the stone that was rejected…has become the cornerstone” (Acts 4:11) and Jesus is the Saviour of all, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Once again, in the second reading (I Jn. 3:1-2), John, the Beloved Shepherd of Jesus, proclaims the greatness of God’s love for us, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are” (I Jn. 3:1). This is why God sent his only son into this world. When we truly live like God’s children in this world, John says, “when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (I Jn. 3:2).
In the Gospel reading (Jn. 10:11-18) we come across a beautiful image of the Good Shepherd – Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). “… And I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:15). Jesus appropriates this image in speaking of his Messianic role. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus knows and relates with his flock in a very personal way. He calls his own sheep and leads them to green pastures. He bestows the fullness of life to his flock by laying down his own very life for his flock. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father” (Jn. 10:14-15). This is to say, as his faithful sheep we are enjoined to recognise the voice of our shepherd and to follow him as he leads us to fullness of life. Archbishop Oscar Romero once said beautifully, “If we truly live like Jesus, we will all have the same fate like Jesus; and if we do not have the same fate like Jesus, it is a clear sign that we are not truly living like Jesus.”
The church celebrates today, ‘The World Day of Prayer for Vocations.’ There is a specific need of many more young women and men who will totally devote their time, talents and energies to be good leaders. The Lord says, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart…” (Jer. 3:15). Hence, let us pray for Christlike shepherds, like Peter, John, Archbishop Oscar Romero and others who know their true Shepherd and who are filled with the Holy Spirit can proclaim Christ boldly and lead everyone to Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you are my Good Shepherd. I love you and I want to be with you. With you I have everything that I need. Thank you Lord Jesus, I praise you and I adore you. Amen.