Acts 13:14, 43-52
Rev 7:9, 14b-17
The Good Shepherd
The fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday. The reason is very obvious from the short gospel for this Sunday.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
The story of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind is in the previous chapter. He and the miracle are rejected by the Jewish authorities who question Jesus’ authority to heal. Jesus responds to this challenge to his authority by calling himself the Good Shepherd.
In today’s gospel the Jewish authorities, in a round-about way, are questioning if Jesus is the messiah. Jesus answers the question, “Are you the Messiah?” by saying, in essence, “If you have to ask, then you are not one of my sheep.”
The image of the Good Shepherd is a powerful description of the relationship between Jesus and his followers. The image of a shepherd describes the protection, security, and care that shepherds give to their sheep. It is a powerful image of the care and commitment of Jesus to his disciples, followers and us.
The Good Shepherd image also stresses the unity of Jesus and the Father. Jesus identifies so closely with the Father that he tells us that they are one. As believers, Jesus also places us in a close relationship with the Father, to actually share in the life of God as he does.
The Responsorial psalm tells us that, “We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” This tells us that we have responsibilities as well as privileges. “The sheep that belongs to me listen to my voice and they follow me.” If we are true followers of the Good Shepherd, we live according to the dictates of our faith. We make efforts to daily deepen our relationship with our Good Shepherd. On the other hand, the Good Shepherd cares for us, loves us unconditionally, forgives us for our weaknesses and is always with us.
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice and they follow me.” Is this true of me in my daily life?
How can I grow closer to the Good Shepherd who is one with the Father?