Sunday readings in brief 4 Easter 2021
Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118; 1 Jn:1-2; Jn 10:11-18
Concern for others
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also known as the Good Shepheard Sunday. The Church today preaches about vocations to Priesthood/Religious life and married life. However, the emphasis is placed on the promotion of vocations to Priesthood and religious life because the numbers the harvest continues to increase but the labourers are few.
In the Gospel today, Jesus presents himself as a good shepherd who is very concerned about his sheep. He juxtaposes the good shepherd with a hired hand whose main concern is not the safety of the sheep but the salary. Jesus is the shepherd who was not afraid to lay down his life for his sheep. This is the one that the Jews rejected yet, as Apostle Peter tells to their face, has become the corner stone.
In Jesus the amazing love of God is made manifest to the whole world. He has made us his children through the suffering, death and resurrection of his beloved son. Eventually, those who believe in him and live according to his will shall become like him.
In the famous 2002 action movie by the title XXX, in one episode the main actor Xander cage (Vin Diesel) tell his commander Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), that “if you want to send someone to save the people, make sure that he first loves them the way they are”.
The Church is missionary by default. The baptized are sent to be missionaries to others by preaching the good news to them. The missionaries priests and religious men and women are more specifically sent to be Christs to the people they are sent to. It is necessary to make sure that those who are sent to various missionary destinations actually love the people they are going to minister. If it happens that the person sent to shepherd the flock dislikes it, then the result will be disastrous.
There has been evidence to scenarios where the shepherd entrusted with the flock dislikes it for various reasons. The demonstration of contempt towards the flock can be multifaceted. On one hand, the person may only do the bare minimum and fail to uplift the lives of the flock by withholding the knowledge of salvation from the flock. On the other hand, the shepherd may turn into a wolf and destroy the lives of his flock. Since the shepherd has authority, it is easy to frustrate the flock with his or her attitude and actions. Unfortunately, we have heard of many stories like these some even on media. Either knowingly or unknowingly, many who are supposed to bring God’s love and consolation to the people have turned into obstacles to the same people. Some either made wrong career choices or are afraid to quite because of social and financial implications; others may have become agents of evil even without their knowledge. These are not only religious people but also lay leaders from the Small Christian Communities to the Executive committees in our parishes.
A good shepherd, who follows the footsteps of his master and teacher, demonstrates genuine concern for the flock and goes out of his or her way to uplift the lives of the people. The good shepherd is not afraid of the wolves who threaten the lives of the sheep. These wolves are not aliens from another planet but can be found disguised either as part of the flock or like shepherds. The good shepherd always tells the truth to his sheep, gives them opportunities to learn from him or her and the freedom to follow him of go away.
In the married life, we too have a replica of the two types of shepherd. People contract marriage to become shepherd of the children they bring to the world. The father of the house is supposed to be a shepherd who feeds his family both physically and spiritually and provide security for them. The mother is supposed to breastfeed her children with both physical and spiritual milk. However, there is are cases of fathers who have become monsters towards their wives and children. We have mother who have become menace to their families and obstacles to the development of their children and husbands. This means that somethings are not being done well from the beginning. Either some do not understand the meaning of family or they have been misled. Too many people are suffering in the marriages and families.
As we celebrate and promote vocations in the Church, let us also pay close attention to what happens every day in our missions and families and raise the alarm before it is late. At the personal level, let us ask ourselves whether we are good shepherds in our capacities or we are the reason many are crying.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD