Easter IV Sunday A: Homily on John 10: 1-10
On this Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of prayer for vocations, the Church reminds us of our call to become good shepherds of God’s flock and good sheep of His parishes, and invites us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate and the consecrated life.
As a Good Shepherd, Jesus left his comfort in heaven and came to look for sinners (Lk 5:32) to lead them to the heavenly pastures. He teaches them the way to heaven, cleanses them in baptism, and sacrament of reconciliation. The sick he anoints with healing oil. Through holy orders he appoints other shepherds to assist him in the mission. Instead of punishing sinners, he chose to suffer and die for their salvation. With his teachings he protects them from evil.
Both the Old and New Testaments use the image of a shepherd and his flock to describe the unique relation of Israel to God and of the Christians to Christ.
The first reading (Acts 2:14a, 36-41) is from St. Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost. He reminds his Jewish listeners that they crucified their true Shepherd. Hence, they need the forgiveness of their sin by getting baptized in the name of Jesus, acknowledging the Risen Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
The responsorial Psalm (23) introduces God as the Good Shepherd Who cares for us, His sheep, providing for our needs. “Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.” (V 4).
In the second reading, (1Pt 2:20b-25) Peter encourages the suffering Christians to follow in the footsteps of their Good Shepherd Jesus the “suffering servant” realizing the truth that it is his suffering and death which enabled them to become more fully the children of God.
In today’s Gospel (Jn 10:1-10), two brief parables reveal Jesus as our unique gateway to heaven and as a selfless, caring “shepherd” who provides his sheep with protection and life itself. In verse 11, Jesus declares: “I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep.” He protects us from the devil and leads us to heaven.
Since in Baptism we become other Christs:
1) We need to become good shepherds (good leaders) whether we are elected or not, whether we are grown-ups, youth or children: Hence, pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds.
But even the youth and children can lead others by being exemplary in good conduct, for example as peacemakers. We become good shepherds by loving people, caring for them, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, teaching them to obey God’s commandments and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. Parents must be especially careful of their duties by giving good example to their children and training them in Christian principles.
2) On the other hand, we need to become good sheep in the fold of Jesus, the Good Shepherd: Our local parish is our sheepfold, and our pastors are our shepherds. Hence, as the good sheep of the parish, parishioners are expected to:
a) Hear and follow the voice of our shepherds through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice.
b) And to receive the spiritual food given by our pastors by regular cleansing of our souls through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and by participation in the Holy Mass and by prayer services, renewal programs and missions.
c) Let us continue to cooperate with our pastors by giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, by encouraging them in their duties, by lovingly correcting them with constructive criticism when they are found misbehaving or failing in their duties and by praying for them d) By continuing to participate actively in the activities of various councils, ministries and parish associations.
3) Lastly, we need to pray for vocations to ministerial priesthood, consecrated life and marriage. In case God is calling you to ministerial diaconate, priesthood or consecrated life, do not reject his call. If you do not feel such a call, and you are still free and able, marry and produce children for the Church.
In any case let us be good shepherds like Jesus, who gives us not only his word but also his body and blood.