Lubem, [24 Apr 2021 at 11:42:34 pm]:
Homily for IV (4) Sunday of Easter (Good shepherd Sunday) Year B. 25-04-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Acts 4: 8-12
Psalm: Psalm 117 (118): 1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2
Gospel: John 10:11-18
YOU TOO CAN BE A GOOD SHEPHERD
Peter filled with the Holy Spirit reiterates the truth that indeed in the whole world there is only one name by which we can be saved – the name of Jesus. Why is it so, because this is something unheard of? It is so because Jesus is the Good Shepherd. That is why whenever we call on Him with faith, all things are possible. His name is associated with acts of goodness and kindness for whoever invokes His name with faith. So, if His name is found in our hearts and on our lips, we can also be full of good and loving acts. That is why today He officially introduces Himself to us in the gospel reading as the Good Shepherd who never abandons His sheep. And this explains why every fourth Sunday of Easter we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, reflecting on our vocation to be shepherds of God’s people and praying for good vocations. Each of us answers this call either in the religious or secular sphere. However, to aspire to be good shepherds, we must first of all be good sheep. Ask yourself, what kind of sheep are you?
Christ calls Himself the Good Shepherd because He lays down His life for His sheep. What does this mean? It means He expends His life for the good and wellbeing of His sheep. He is ready to make sacrifices and take risks for the sake of His sheep, to suffer on behalf of His sheep, to confront dangers that threaten His sheep and even to the point of dying to give them life in abundance. Therefore, He would never abandon His sheep even in the face of wolf attacks. It is only love that pushes Him to this extent of laying down His life for His sheep, and we are this sheep. His attitude towards us is not that of the hired man who abandons the sheep in the face of danger, because His love for us is constant and unending. St. Paul reminds us that even when we are threatened by calamities, dangers, and persecutions, Christ’s love for us is constant and we shall conquer all through His name. (cf. Romans 8:35-37). But are we going to let His love for us be in vain? It means He wants us in return also to be faithful to Him at all times. The result is that He will never abandon those sheep that are faithful in following Him, because the Good Shepherd knows His own sheep and His own know Him too just as He knows the Father and the Father knows Him. This is a reassurance of the close relationship Jesus has with us, knowing us personally. But the question we should ask is, how well do we know Him too?
The Good Shepherd’s love for us is an invitation that we should be good sheep. The good sheep follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd so as to become good shepherds tomorrow. Therefore, to be good shepherds tomorrow, we must first of all be good sheep today. For to be a good leader, one must first be a good follower. Can you say you are a good sheep? If we obey His voice and follow Him at all times as good and faithful sheep, we can also become good shepherds tomorrow anywhere we find ourselves either in the family, religious or political spheres. If we follow the Good Shepherd faithfully, we can also imbibe the attitude of Christ the Good Shepherd. As the Good Shepherd gives us His life, we also must be ready to give Him our lives following Him with all our heart and dedicating our lives to Him in service to our brothers and sisters. This is to challenge us also to be good shepherds in our own ranks. It is in this light that in the prophet Ezekiel, God condemns bad shepherds, that is, the religious and political leaders who exploit the people rather than care for them (cf. Ezekiel 34:1-10). Therefore, ask yourself, as a leader, what kind of shepherd are you?
Every Christian is called to be a good shepherd (leader), but this must begin from being a good sheep (follower). A Christian who does not backdown even in the face of persecution is a good sheep. He is ready to surrender his life for the Good Shepherd who had first laid down His life for us all. Such a person will not be forgotten by the Good Shepherd who does not allow anything to separate us from His love, not even death. On the other hand, a bad sheep has the attitude of the hired shepherd. He sometimes hears the voice of the Good shepherd and follows when the going is good, but when the going gets tough heading towards calvary, he quickly abandons the cross and runs for his life. This is the fair-weather Christian who only follows Christ for earthly benefits. Such a Christian prefers to follow a Christ without the Cross, forgetting that without the Cross there would be no Christ. Today is a day to interrogate ourselves to know what kind of sheep we are, which will determine whether we can actualize our vocation to be good shepherds, or we end up as hired shepherds. We use this day therefore to pray for good shepherds in the Church and society. May the Lord bless us with good shepherds after His own heart, who will be concerned about the genuine good of the sheep entrusted to them, and may He open our ears and hearts to hearken to the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd and be courageous in following Him in all seasons to the end. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.