Mission Society of the Philippines


4th Sunday of Easter Year A

WE CELEBRATE TODAY the Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, uses this image in reference to himself in John’s Gospel. He is the gate, and all who pass through the gate will be saved. He is the Good Shepherd who leads his sheep to safe pastures. He came in order to give life for his sheep.

Let us try to reflect on these important points:

Firstly, Jesus emphasizes the importance of the voice of the shepherd. The voice is significant because the following of the sheep depends on what they hear. By sense of hearing, they can identify the voice and recognize their shepherd. If they hear the right voice, they would follow him. Thus, sheep are known to be “listeners” to their shepherd. The goodness of Christ, as our Shepherd, must be experienced by us. The voice of Christ can be heard through his Word and commandments. Like the sheep, we should have the ability to recognize his voice. Recognition is basic, and it is crucial to our following him. It can be disastrous if we choose to follow the voice of the “thieves and robbers” in our society. Jesus the good Shepherd leads us to what is good.

Secondly, Jesus says that he is the gate of the sheepfold. He promises that whoever passes through the gate will be saved. In the responsorial psalm, we heard of God as a protector, a protecting Shepherd. For the martyrs and those who suffered persecution, they truly perceived the security and protection from the Lord. So, security and protection here can be understood in terms of salvation.

The gate is a small or perhaps a narrow entry toward the sheepfold. Passing through the gate of salvation is a process. Like sheep, we need to go through it. Our salvation should be hard-earned. But others think this would be easily earned. They simply want to “climb elsewhere” and thus, they are ‘robbers and thieves” according to Christ. Christ is the gate and door to salvation. Faith in him is necessary for our own salvation. Therefore, let us continue and maintain our loving friendship with him.

Thirdly, toward the end of the gospel, Jesus says that he came in order to give us life and have this life more abundantly. His resurrection is a strong proof of fulfillment to his promise: he does not give us a simple life, but an eternal life.

St John Paul II once said that “man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.” So, our natural life is just an initial stage which finds its full realization in eternity or the afterlife.

But often we have gone astray because of our sinfulness and weakness. These do not bring us life to the full. In the First Reading, we have heard Peter proclaiming how to return to the Lord’s flock. He said that personal repentance, the purification of Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are necessary.

May this celebration of the Sunday of the Good Shepherd remind us of the goodness of the Lord. Like the psalmist, we must say and proclaim, “There Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”

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