((Readings: 1st: Acts 2:14.36-41; Ps: 22; 2nd1 Pet 2:20-25; Gos: Jn 10:1-10))

The 4th Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is the World “Day of Prayer for Vocations.” Today we celebrate Christ, who is not only risen but also a good shepherd who continues to tend and rear his flock. A shepherd is a person who tends or rears the sheep. His job is to protect his flock from wild animals and guide them to good pastures with plenty of food and water. In Old Testament times, a shepherd was either the youngest boy in the village/family or a hired laborer.

In the Old Testament, the image of the Shepherd is often applied to God as well as to the leaders of the people.   The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel compare Yahweh’s care and protection of His people to that of a shepherd.   “He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against His breast and leading the mother ewes to their rest.” (Is. 40:11).  Ezekiel represents God as a loving shepherd who searches diligently for the lost sheep.  Psalm 23 is David’s famous picture of God as The Good Shepherd: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  In green pastures you let me graze, to safe waters you lead me.”

There we also bad shepherds in Israel, mostly hired laborers, who neither protected the flock nor led them to good pastures.  Jer. 23:1: “Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered.”   Ez. 34: 2: “Trouble for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves!  Shepherds’ ought to feed their flock.”

In the New Testament Christ is the Good Shepherd because of his love for the flock. Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd too.  Hence pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, protecting them from physical and spiritual harm, and guiding them in the right path. To be a good shepherd therefore we ought to possess the following 3 basic qualities:

  • HE KNOWS HIS SHEEP AND HIS SHEEP HEAR HIS VOICE: The Palestinian shepherds knew each sheep of their flock by name, and the sheep knew their shepherd and his voice. Similarly, Jesus knows each one of us by name Before you were born, I knew you” (Jer 1:5), He knows our needs, our worries, our pains, our joy, our weaknesses, and our strength.  He loves us as we are, with all our limitations, and he expects us to return his love by keeping his word. Every good shepherd therefore ought to know his flock, be close to them, and accept them with all their limitations. We must build a good relationship with our flock based on love, trust and mutual respect. A good shepherd goes ahead of the sheep and they follow him because they recognize his voice.
  • HE PROTECTS HIS SHEEP. “I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn 10:18). A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus did not allow humanity to perish in their sinfulness, therefore, leaving heaven He entered the sinful humanity and by dying on the cross he paid the price for our sins. Through His Word and the sacraments, Christ is always present to guide and protect us.

 In brief, God is above you to Bless you, below you to support you; before you to guide you to greener pastures, behind you to protect you; beside you to comfort you and inside you to give you strength and joy. As shepherds, we must be ready to protect our flocks from the physical, spiritual, and psychological wolves all the time.  This demand keeps our interest aside for the sake of our flocks. We must be ready to lay down our lives for the sheep (Jn 10:11).

  • HE GOES IN SEARCH OF STRAY LAMBS AND HEALS THE SICK ONES. In the parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:10-14), the shepherd leaves the 99 others on the mountains and searches high and low for the lost sheep. When the shepherd finds the lost sheep, he rejoices over it that the 99 who did not go astray. This is how God will rejoice when a sinner returns to Him than over the many righteous persons who do not need to repent. Our concern as parents, leaders, and the church should be on the weak, sinners, and the lost so that we can bring them back to the flock. May God grant us special grace to love and search for the lost sheep.

As we celebrate Christ the Good Shepherd, we are reminded that we are also shepherds at different levels. As shepherds, we need to know our flocks and love them, protect them, guard them from harm, and search for the lost ones. Let us pray for more vocations (priests and religious) in our church so that we can have more faithful shepherds who will take care of the flock entrusted to them by the Father. As the sheep of God’s flock, let us heed the daily call of Christ our good shepherd who has spoken to us through the scripture.

PRAYER: Good Shepherd, grant me the grace to generously respond to your call. Amen

   Fr. Antony Muchui, SVD

 HAPPY EASTER!!! ((Contact our vocation office on +255629269140 or +254792299140))

“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the word and the spirit of Grace; and may the heart of Jesus live in the heart of all the people. Amen” SVD Prayer

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