Fourth Sunday of Easter
Also Read: Mass Readings for 30 April 2023 Mass Reading Reflection for 30 April 2023
Gospel: John 10: 1-10
Today is the Good Shepherd Sunday. It reminds us of the fulfillment of a profound Old Testament imagery: Lord as the Shepherd. Psalm 23 is the most popular psalm. It starts with, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd…’ By calling Himself the shepherd, Jesus asserts His identity as prophesied by the psalmist. Jesus is the shepherd, expected by the psalmist.
Shepherding was and is not an esteemed profession. They were seldom considered heroes. Most of them were hardly literate. It was a profession for the less privileged ones in the families and the communities. But Jesus compared himself to such a poor shepherd. Shepherd was His favorite self-portrait.
A regular shepherd counts his flock by number, but the good shepherd counts by name. Jesus does not count us by number, he calls us by name. If one is lost, He will not pacify himself that 99 are safe and in good custody. For Jesus, you are too precious to neglect. You are precious to Jesus. You are so precious to Him that He did not care about leaving Heaven for a while. You are so precious that He wanted to walk with you. You are so precious that he took it upon himself to pay the debts on your behalf: even though it meant dying a humiliating death on the cross. You are so precious that He conquered death and resurrected for you.
You are so precious that He sent apostles and preachers to tell of his love and sacrifices. You are so precious that He shrunk Himself to a thin wafer in Blessed Sacrament. You are so precious that He waits for you at the confessional to forgive your sins and to encourage you to a better life. For Jesus, you are not a number, but you are a precious person He holds in high esteem.
Don’t be lesser than what you are. You are dear to God. If you find a fence around you, and a gate blocking you, it reminds you that He won’t let you perish. True love binds. Some see it as bondage and overlook the love that builds the fence around them. Wolfs detest fences and gates. Jesus is the biggest gate loathed by the wolfs called devils.
The Church is the fence around us. Jesus is the gate of the Church. Stay inside the Church. There are wolves inviting us outside. They invite you to a world without boundaries. They keep inviting us to go outside the fences. They promise it is great to be outside the boundaries. Indeed, it is great for the predators; not for the sheep.
Choose wisely. Stay close to the Shepherd. Even when you fall down, stay close to Jesus. Stay close to Jesus like St. Peter. Even after denying Jesus, he did not run away from Jesus. He was there when Jesus turned back. Without uttering a word, Jesus once again held him close. His wounds were healed by a simple gaze.
It is worth staying close to the shepherd always. It is great to be within the fence otherwise called the Church. There were many who found the fence inconvenient and left the fence. Let us pray for their return. Pray that they return sooner than later; because your prayers count.