4th Sunday of Easter
April 22, 2018
“I am the Good Shepherd.
A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. Jesus has no limits to his love: he has done everything possible for me. What limits do I have in my love for him, or for others? I lay down my life for Christ by dying to my own will, by being obedient to the voice of the Good Shepherd; so any follower of his will be led to lay down his or her life at some point as part of our lesson plan of life. This is one of the key lessons Jesus teaches the sheep who follow him.
A hired leader, someone who works for himself, whose primary interest is to get paid, will be tempted to run away when he sees danger coming. This type of false guide has no concern for his flock. Jesus is not like this! He will not leave us when we are in danger, like a path that leads nowhere, but instead, will even die to protect us. In fact, he already has by dying on the cross! If our Shepherd-Guide seems to disappear when danger threatens, he has assured us he is nevertheless always nearby. At these times, we are called to grow in trust.
Those Christians who follow Christ, that is, the sheep, will really get to know his voice (John 10:16). This intimacy with the Good Shepherd comes from spending time with Jesus, listening to him speaking: in the Scriptures, in the Church, in our hearts, in the circumstances of everyday life. Other voices, other noises will be competing for my attention to try to lead me astray. Through the daily silence of prayer, I will continue to be attuned to the voice of my real guide, Jesus, constantly speaking to me through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus intends to shepherd everyone, even those who do not know him now, with the goal, one day, of having only one flock. Our free will gives us the choice to accept or reject his voice! Every movement of goodness and beauty in the world, everything that ultimately leads to God is, in fact, the voice of the Good Shepherd: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16).