Good Shepherd Sunday

by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB

The opening prayer for the 4th Sunday of Easter goes to the heart of this week’s message: “Almighty ever-living God, lead us to a share in the joys of heaven.” That is the goal of all Christian life. The prayer continues, “…so that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before.” We of that flock yearn for the unfailing leadership of God on our journey to eternal life, and our Shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before Christ’s description of his shepherdship are two passages from the one He appointed to lead his flock. Recall Jesus’ triple queries to Simon Peter, “Do you love me?” Simon insisted that he did, and Jesus commanded him, “Feed my sheep. Feed my lambs.” The Father gave us Jesus to guide us, Jesus gave us his Church. And what did Peter his heir teach? “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Then, ‘because we had gone astray like sheep,’ that “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross. … By his wounds you have been healed.” Peter’s message is of the power and courage of Jesus.

Chapter 10 of St. John’s Gospel confirms Peter’s claim. Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep.” He said this under threat from disbelievers. He added what he meant, that hirelings flee in the face of danger, but not He. The sheep are his, and he will defend them. This ought to be a consolation to us who struggle to live as good and decent Christians.

In much the same manner Jesus made another claim. He said that freely by his own will He would lay down his life for his sheep, that no one could take his life from him, but if he died He would take it up again, for his power came by command from God. In fact, later He would say He was one with God. Consider. What greater defender can we have other than Jesus, human and divine?

If only we would reflect. Power to lead a good life comes from above. Jesus knows us and He loves us.

Happy the one who trusts in You!

Psalm 84