The Risen Christ is Our Good Shepherd and Model
Readings: 1st: Acts 4:8-12 Ps 117:8-23; 2nd: 1Jn 1 Jn 3:1-2; Gos Jn 10:11-18
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, the church celebrates Christ, the Good Shepherd. He accepted suffering and death to save his flock. Christ, the good shepherd, is our role model of love and care. If we obediently continue to listen to him and follow him, he will lead us safely to our destination in heaven.
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In our first reading, Peter testified through his miracle and testimony that Jesus is the good shepherd who cares for his flock. It is His wish to heal us. So as his flock, he is with us at all times. He watches over us and guides through the paths of life. He cares about us. Whenever we call upon Christ, our good shepherd in faith, he hears and answers us according to the purpose of his will.
The Apostles were very much aware of the divine and protective presence of Christ, the good shepherd. So, whenever they were in need, they turned to him for help. Peters testifies to this: “It was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This is the only one who can save us.” There is power, salvation, healing in the name of the risen Christ, our Good Shepherd. He walks with us and cares for us daily.
Our second reading presents us with one essential attribute of Christ, the Good Shepherd. That is, love. John reminds us of this: “Behold the great love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.” The only love comparable to the good shepherd’s love is a mother’s love for her baby (Is 49:15). Christ demonstrated this love for us by offering his life as a sacrifice and ransom for our salvation. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13). So, we must emulate Christ as our model of love and care.
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 know me. They listen to my voice…” We learn from this, two crucial lessons. The first, the role and characteristics of a good shepherd. The second is the duty and response of the flock.
The good shepherd knows and takes care of his flock. He is patient, he loves and never harms his flock or sheep. A good shepherd is readily available for his flock. He is ready to make sacrifices for their good. On the other hand, a good flock listens to its shepherd. It obeys his instructions and follows him with trust and confidence. In other words, there must be a good relationship and understanding between a good shepherd and his flock.
The celebration of Christ the Good Shepherd today reminds us that we are shepherds, as well as flocks. This is because each one of us is occupying one leadership position or the other. So, who is a good shepherd, and where can we find one?
We find an honest president or governor and a holy and caring priest in every good mother or father. We can find a good Shepherd in every humble and God-fearing youth, in a devoted brother or sister, and every just and respectful police officer. Wherever there is a caring doctor, a dedicated teacher, a good cook, cleaner, or gardener, there is a good shepherd.
Finally, today, the church provides us another beautiful opportunity to pray for the Holy Father, all church, family, and world leaders. With our hope and confidence firmly placed in the risen Christ, let pray: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23). Alleluia, Alleluia.
Peace be with you!