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 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 with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
In the first reading of today, Peter the chief shepherd among the “Apostolic Shepherds”, played his pastoral role very well. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he was able to to speak on behalf of the rest. Of course, his speech was a great success. This is because, it led to the greatest conversion of souls ever recorded in the history of mankind in a single preaching occasion. That is, three thousand converts!
The lesson here is quite simple. A shepherd who prepares himself and works with the Holy Spirit will definitely 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 of the fact 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 endured, 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 both the ordeals, and qualities of a good shepherd. He offered 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 in order 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, their hope, their pride and their 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 contrasts 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…the sheep hear his voice…he calls his own sheep, and leads them…the sheep follow because, he knows his voice.” What Jesus teaches us here is that, we need to build a good relationship with our flock, a relationship based on love, trust, and mutual respect.
We also, must make Christ the shepherd of our soul. This simply means listening to his voice in the scriptures, in the teachings of the Church’s Magisterium, and in the Traditions of the church. To be truly the sheep of the Lord’s flock, we must listen to him. He never fails. He knows the path we walk every day. He knows when to place us on his shoulders, and when to take us by the hand like his little children.
When we come closer to him, we shall hear and recognize his voice. 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 surely, goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life (Ps 23, 1.6). Alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you all!