Christ Our Good Shepherd Cares For Us
Readings: 1st: Acts 2: 14.36-41; Ps 22: 1-6; 2nd: 1Pt 2: 22-25; Gos Jn 10: 1-10)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
On this fourth Sunday of Easter, the church celebrates Christ the Good Shepherd. We continue to rejoice because He is the one that leads us through the difficult paths of life.
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In the first reading, Peter, the head of the Apostles, played his pastoral role very well. By the power of the Holy Spirit, he spoke on behalf of the rest. Of course, his speech was a great success. This is because it led to the most significant conversion of souls ever recorded in the history of humankind in a single. That is, three thousand converts!
The lesson here is quite simple. A shepherd who prepares himself and works with the Holy Spirit will become a powerful instrument of conversion in God’s hands. God knew that Peter was prepared and capable, so he gave him a great harvest of souls.
Also, in his pastoral letter from our second reading today, Peter further reminds us that to be a good shepherd, one must endure ordeals as Christ did for the sake of his flock. He was not selfish or neglected his duty. Instead, he persisted and gave everything for the good of his flock: “Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow. He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross.”
These are the qualities of a good shepherd. The good shepherd offers everything for the sake of his flock. He does not believe in half measures. For him, it is “Aut optimuim, aut nihil” (it is either all or nothing). We must imitate Christ, the good shepherd who dared the devil to save us. We must say like Christ, “I will.” Lord, let me take care of the sick, the orphans, the weak, the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Lord, let me fight for their course. Let me be their light, hope, pride, and shepherd.
As good shepherds, each one of us has a responsibility towards someone. We must not abandon this responsibility to the detriment of our flock. Today’s celebration reminds us that we ought to be contrasted to “mundane shepherds” of our time who exploit their flock.
In the gospel, Jesus points out more qualities of the good shepherd: “The one who enters through the gate is the good shepherd of the flock. He sheep hear his voice. He calls his sheep and leads them. The sheep follow because he knows his voice.” Jesus teaches us that we must build a good relationship with our flock based on love, trust, and mutual respect.
We also must make Christ the shepherd of our souls. This means listening to his voice through the scriptures, the teachings of the Church’s Magisterium, and the church’s traditions. We must listen to him to be truly the sheep of the Lord’s flock. He never fails. He knows the path we walk every day. He knows when to place us on his shoulders, to take us by the hand like his little children.
We shall hear and recognize his voice when we come closer to him. Whereas moving away from him endangers our life. He beckons us: “Come unto me all you (my sheep) who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 1, 28). So, let us make the risen Christ our shepherd because, if we do: “there is nothing we shall want, and indeed, goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life (Ps 23, 1.6). Alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you all!