Good Shepherd Sunday
The fourth Sunday during Easter Season is called the Good Shepherd Sunday because the gospel of the day talks about the Jesus our good shepherd.
The Bible is filled with different forms of literary styles, like: “I am the vine you are the branches” or “fishers of men”. Here in this passage when talking about being the Good Shepherd, Jesus is referring to a typical shepherd in Palestine who brought the sheep into the sheepfold every night.
The sheepfold normally had a circular stone wall with an opening or door where the sheep entered. Once the sheep were inside for the night the shepherd slept in that opening or door all night. The sheep could not get out without stepping over the shepherd’s body which meant they would not get out at all during the night.
Jesus is the gate, anyone who enters through him will be safe, and will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. Others steal and kill and destroy but Jesus is the Good Shepherd, he is ready to lay down his life for his sheep, he is even ready to go on an endless search for his lost sheep and does not rest until he finds it, that’s his tremendous love for us.
Jesus loves and cares for us like a shepherd and we must trust and follow Him like his faithful sheep.
The image of the Good Shepherd reminds us of the intimacy and friendship between Jesus and us. The parable brings to our attention three consoling truths: Christ gives His life for His sheep; He remains with them constantly through the bond of grace; He will not rest content until there be but one flock and one shepherd.
The intimacy between Jesus and us is such that Jesus says: “No one can take them out of my hand.” (John 10:28) This is a beautiful description of Jesus being close to us and protecting us; we are safe in Jesus’ hand. Just as a father or mother holds a child up in its arms, Jesus holds us up in his hands to protect us and promises us eternal life through Baptism and the Eucharist.
Jesus wants us to respond by opening our hearts to him and by staying close to him always just as he is close to us.
As we contemplate Jesus the Good Shepherd today Pope John Paul II also declared the fourth Sunday of Easter a Day of Prayer for Vocations. Jesus the Good Shepherd continues to love us and care for us by calling men into the priesthood and religious life so that they can shepherd us.
The priesthood is a sign of God’s love and concern for us. Today, Vocations Sunday, we pray that many will answer the Lord’s call to give themselves to Him in the priesthood and religious life.
We pray that many may listen to the voice of Jesus as he calls them, that they may enter the sheepfold through him and be safe and have life and live it to the fullest.
Fr George Carlos