JESUS, OUR GOOD SHEPHERD
Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year A
May 03, 2020 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Acts: 2:14A;36-41 Psalm 23:1-6
I Peter 2:20B-25 | John 10:1-10
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
When I lived in Texas before moving to California, about thirty years ago, I had two adorable cocker spaniel dogs, Buffy and Dolly. Buffy was Dolly’s mother, and although she was not very smart, her daughter, Dolly, was one of the most intelligent dogs I have ever encountered.
When I would take Buffy and Dolly for the daily walks on the grounds of the community where I lived, Dolly would love to run free in the common area and circle back and forth as if she were herding sheep. She had never been to Ireland, and she did this instinctively. She was truly a good shepherd to her imaginary sheep.
Herding dogs are known for their keen intellect and quick footwork. These dogs are great fun to watch and Dolly was the only dog I have owned who could catch a tennis ball in mid-air.
Literally, a shepherd is someone who tends and rears sheep. Metaphorically, the term shepherd is used for God, especially in the Catholic, Judeo-Christian tradition. In Psalm 23 which we read today, it begins, “The Lord is my shepherd.:
It is no wonder that today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. In the Old Testament times, a shepherd was one who spent his or her entire life tending and raising sheep.
In our first reading today, Peter proclaims Jesus as the Lord and Messiah and tells his listeners to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
This advice is applicable today to our current shepherds: especially the health care workers, doctors, nurses, emergency responders, government officials, and all those providing essential services, who desperately need the Holy Spirit to guide them during this pandemic. Peter also reminds us to be good shepherds and endure ordeals as Jesus, our Good Shepherd did for our sake. Jesus was not selfish with His life and did not turn away from the responsibilities of His life’s mission.
One reason why Jewish people love shepherds so much is because they believe that God is their shepherd. In Ezekiel 34, God says, “I am tired of you shepherds. I am going to take my own sheep and shepherd them myself because you neglect them, you don’t care for them, you don’t love them and so one day, I will send a shepherd and he will be God Himself.”
It should also be noted that Abraham was a shepherd as were all the leaders of the Jewish people.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that, “I am the shepherd.”
By giving His life for us, or metaphorically, His sheep, Jesus proves to us that He is truly a Good Shepherd.
In retrospect, to look at Jesus’ life and mission, it appears at first to be a total failure when He is seen dying on the cross. But Jesus’ mission on earth was to fulfill God’s plan “to seek and to save the lost” according to St. Luke. Jesus was aware of His purpose at a very young age and He knew God’s plan for Him was to die on the cross and to rise again from the dead in victory over sin and death.
Jesus came to save sinners: to eat with them, talk with them, and show them God’s love. Jesus went out of His way to save those who needed saving and He intentionally sought out those who needed saving. Jesus teaches us that no one is too sinful or too far gone to be saved.
Jesus lives as our Good Shepherd today and when we believe that He died and was resurrected for us, we accept His gift of eternal life to spend with Him in heaven. Amen.