Celebrating And Emulating The Risen Christ, Our Good Shepherd
Readings: (1st: Acts 4-8 Ps 117, 8-23; 2nd: 1Jn 1 Jn 3, 1-2; Gos Jh 10, 11-18)
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 of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this forth Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the risen Christ, our Good Shepherd. He is the good shepherd who passed through many kinds of sufferings and even death in order to save us. He did and accepted all these so that he might lead us safely to the father in heaven. Today as we celebrate him, the church presents him to us as a good and true model of leadership. If we continue to listen to him, and follow him, he will lead us safely to our destination in heaven
In our first reading from Acts of the Apostles, Peter testified through his miracle and testimony that Jesus is actually the good shepherd who continues to heal and care for us his flock. It is His wish that we remain healthy and strong. So as his flock, he is still strongly with us, guiding us through the dangerous paths of life and, taking care of our injuries. Whenever we call on him in faith, he will definitely hear, and answer us. This is why Peter reminds us that: “It was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…For of all the names in the world given to man, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” There is power, salvation, and healing in the name of the risen Christ our Good Shepherd. The only thing we need to do is, call on him and he will be there for us. Our second reading presents us with one very important quality of Jesus the Good Shepherd. That is, love for his flock. John thus reminds us: “Think of the great love that the father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God.” It is interesting to know that Jesus our Good Shepherd demonstrated this love to the core by giving up his own life for us. We must also follow his good example by extending this love to our flock, our families, brothers, sisters, children, neighbours, subordinates, society and, our country.
In today’s gospel from John, Jesus tells us: “I am a good shepherd: the good shepherd is the one who lays down his life for his sheep… I know my own and my own knows me…they listen to my voice…” Through this reading we learn two important lessons. And these are both the qualities of a good shepherd and those of a good flock. The good shepherd takes care of his flock. He is patient, with them; he loves and never harms them, he is available to them at all times and, is ready to make sacrifices for their good. On the other hand, a good flock listens to their shepherd, obeys his instructions and follows him with trust and confidence. In other words, there must be a good relationship between a good shepherd and his flock. For this to be possible, a good shepherd must be humble, kind, and caring towards his flock while the flock should also be obedient and humble too.
As we celebrate Christ the Good Shepherd today, we are also reminded that that we are all shepherds in one way or the other. This is because each one of us is occupying one leadership position or the other. This means we should learn the qualities of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Which include: Sacrifice because, he sacrificed everything to save us his flock; Patience because, he always bears with our weaknesses. Love because, “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn15, 13); Availability because, he is always close to us and so, “whoever shall call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved (Rom 10, 13). So, who is a good shepherd and where can we find one? A good mother or father is a good shepherd, a good president or governor is a good shepherd, a good priest or altar server is a good shepherd, a good youth or child is a good shepherd, a good brother or sister is a good shepherd, a good police or military officer is a good shepherd, a good doctor, teacher, musician, mechanic, accountant, lawyer, secretary, cook, cleaner, gardener or famer, etcetera, is a good shepherd.
Finally, today, the church provides us an opportunity to pray for the Holy Father Pope Francis, the Magisterium, and all the leaders of his flock in the church all over the world. We must pray that they may remain focused and strong. This is most especially now that the flock of Christ is threatened by so many “dangerous wolves” and challenges all over the world. We must also pray for all the leaders in the world that they may lead their people according to the model of Christ the Good Shepherd. Therefore, let us sing with the psalmist this wonderful song: “The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want…surely his goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23). Alleluia, alleluia
Peace be with you!!