April 29, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 2; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18
In today’s gospel, we hear the parable of the Good Shepherd, a parable in which Jesus Himself focuses on the immense love and care He has for each one of us.
“I am the Good Shepherd. … And I will lay down my life for my sheep,” He says.
For many of us, the shepherd/sheep narrative does not hit home quite like it would have for those in Jesus’ day. Most of us are not as familiar as they would have been with what it takes to raise and care for sheep. But Jesus’ emphatic words make His point clear nonetheless, and the power of these words ought to pierce our hearts: “I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” God the Father and God the Son have a very intimate all-knowing relationship. They are, after all two of the three persons in one God. Therefore, their knowledge of one another, their love for one another is whole and entire. It is infinite. It is selfless. It is divine. Likewise, Jesus is telling us He knows us – He loves us and cares for us in an infinite, selfless, life-giving way – a reality that was made perfectly clear as He died on the cross.
And, today, as we celebrate the fourth Sunday of the Easter Season, we learn that Christ’s life-giving love for us extends even beyond the cross. The Resurrected Jesus is at work today – loving us in a wholly selfless way and calling us to Himself. Christ is at work in the world today, indeed, He is very much alive and actively leading the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is that loving Shepherd who guides us along the way and calls us into the fold.
But it is not just the Church that Jesus, the Good Shepherd loves and cares for. He tells us here, He loves and cares for all His sheep. In other words, He loves and cares for everyone – every single person who exists – just as a shepherd cares for His sheep.
“I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold,” He tells us. “These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
Christ’s love is boundless, and we know this well. Because of His love for us He has blessed us with so many good gifts, not the least of which include His own death and resurrection for our salvation. In response to His boundless, selfless, life-giving love, we are called to us our many blessings for His glory – to use the gifts we have been given, namely our time, talents, and treasure, to show others the love God has for them and to call them into the fold. It is our responsibility as Christ’s disciples to come to know Him better through prayer (using the time He has given us wisely) and then to proclaim His loving care to all men.
We can do this in many ways. In fact, right here in our parish there are a number of ways through which we can share God’s love with others using the talents He has given us. Those gifted with a musical ability can join the choir and proclaim His love through beautiful songs. While those who are good cooks or bakers could join our parish receptions ministry or our casseroles to go ministry and bring Christ’s love to those who need food for the day. Meanwhile, everyone can participate in our Bible Studies and the like, learning, together, more about Christ’s love for us and sharing that love with those around you.
There are numerous opportunities to participate in the life of the Church, to proclaim the Good News of God’s love to all. Let us, each and every one of us, do our part and show the Lord how grateful we are for His boundless love by sharing that love with all we meet.