Jesus Christ: The Good Shepherd Of All Nations
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +23408063767512
Readings: (1st: Acts 13, 14. 43-52; Ps: 99,1-3. 5; 2nd: Rev 7, 9. 14-17; Gos: Jn 10, 27-30)
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. So, dominant in almost all the readings of this fourth Sunday of Easter include themes like: Hope, God’s protection, the elect or chosen ones, Salvation for all nations, God’s divine favour, etcetera. Once, a poor widow decided to buy three pairs of trousers for her triplet boys. Because of her poverty she decided to shop for the trousers in a second hand cloths (popularly called “okirika” or “bend-down-select”) market. On returning home with the trousers, a little fracas broke out among two of the triplets as to who chooses what and first. Meanwhile, the third boy remained unperturbed and was ready to take anyone of the three trousers. When the other two have made their choices, the humble boy quietly took the one they both rejected and went into his room. During the course of trying to wash their cloths, the humble boy discovered right inside the back pocket of the rejected trouser a squeezed hundred Dollar note. In amazement he screamed: Mummy Dollar! Mummy Dollar, Hundred Dollar note in my trouser!!! How did the Dollar find its way there? The answer is simply: It is the Lords doing and divine favour!
Today’s readings point to the facts of God’s favour upon us all, and to the fact that God favoured us, and came to us upon rejection by his “first elect” to whom the good news was initially preached. The “gentiles” or people of other nations who received the gospel cheerfully represent this humble son, the highly favoured ones who through no merits of theirs enjoy God’s special favour. The rejection of the good news by God’s first elect and its acceptance by others is a clear case of one taking advantage of the opportunity missed by the other. When God decides to favour his people he does so without any prejudice. The rest of the nations therefore became God’s elect not by merit but due to the ignorance and the stubbornness of the “first elect.” Today we lean therefore that there are possible ways we like the first elect, can reject the mercy and salvation God. The first reading mentions just few of these ways, jealousy, blasphemies and contradictions. Ours may not fall within any of these categories, but we must examine and ask ourselves: Is there any way I have rejected God in my life?” Indeed one important point to note here is that any form of stubbornness, or disobedience is tantamount to rejecting God. This could be for instance by not trusting God enough, despairing against God, mocking God by returning to the same sin again and again, and even by our failure to recognize Jesus in other people.
The second reading is a sure manifestation and assurance that God willed to save not just his first elect but all who believe in his Son. In order words, God’s salvation and kingdom is inclusive especially to all who humbly and cheerfully embrace him. His mercy, love and salvation does not discriminate, neither is it the sole prerogative of any single nation. Everyone who welcomes the good news is a share holder in the kingdom of God. However, there is a saying that “you can take a horse to the river but you cannot force it to drink”. So, in as much as salvation is free, it does not in any way preclude one’s effort to achieve it. One can also lose it through carelessness, laziness, and sinful living. That is why Paul tells us: “work out you salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2, 12). God’s salvation is like a public spring flowing freely, only those who wish can draw life from it. So as the sheep of God’s flock let us heed his call as he says: “behold I stand at the door of your heart and knock if you open the door I will come in…” (Rev 3, 20) Yes, Jesus the good Shepherd of all nations stands there patiently and endlessly knocking and, it is our choice to welcome or lock him out of the castle of our lives that will make the difference. “Oh that today you will listen to his voice harden not your hearts” (Ps 95, 8). May the Almighty God grant us the wisdom and grace we need to make the right choice of accepting Jesus each day into our lives.
Peace be with you.