• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

Saturday, 24 April 2021 17:32

Fourth Sunday of Easter - 2021

Written by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter

(John 10:11-18)

 

Fr Elmer Ibarra 150 BestWho is Jesus Christ? This has been an age-old question that many people particularly theologians have tried to answer. In the gospel of John though, we read throughout the gospel that Jesus made seven declarations on who he is. What is called the “I AM” declarations are the following: bread of life, the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the gate, the true vine, and the door. And what I believe is the  most famous of them all, “The Good Shepherd”.

What could the listeners of Jesus be thinking upon this declaration? Jesus was a master story teller and if wanted to give us a message he would do it in a way that would give an image that would stick to the minds of his listeners. So why the Good Shepherd? It could have been the “Good Carpenter”, as Jesus was a carpenter. It could have been the “Good Vinedresser” as Jesus also pictured himself as the true vine.

In ancient Palestine and most probably until now, taking care of sheep and goats is still a source of livelihood for many people. However, compared to the paddocks in Australia and New Zealand where there are a lot of flat lands and rolling hills, Palestine fields tend to be quite rocky and have many dangerous cliffs. So to be a shepherd in this land takes a lot of commitment and dedication.

In the gospel today, Jesus declared himself as the “Good Shepherd” and differentiated himself from the “hired man”. The hired man would run away once the wolf appeared and the sheep would be scattered. The Good Shepherd though would guard his sheep and would give up his life for his sheep. He would want to have one flock under one shepherd.

I know that for some of us, being compared to a sheep is somewhat awkward and humiliating. Sheep by nature are short-sighted, docile, and in some cases quite dumb, so easy to get lost from the flock. However, let us spare ourselves some thought to Jesus who compared himself as the “Good Shepherd”. When we see pictures and images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, it is usually a picture which is usually already “tamed”. We see Jesus in flowing robes walking with a staff with all those white fluffy sheep. If you are a shepherd, during that time and most probably until now, that would be the farthest thing from the truth. If you are a shepherd, you wouldn’t wear flowing robes, you would definitely trip in trying to walk on those rocky hills and if you need to run to catch a sheep running away, flowing robes would be last thing that you would want to wear. In Palestine where water is not that plentiful at all means that the sheep would be a dirty brown because most of the paddock would be very dusty. The shepherd himself would be dirty and smelly because of the sheep. That is why in Jewish society, shepherds were not really looked upon with high esteem. Rather, they were on the lower tiers of society.

Nevertheless, Jesus compared himself to the Good Shepherd because it is a lowly job and yet it requires full of dedication because of the challenges it poses. It also requires knowing one’s sheep and if demanded, as Pope Francis would say, also to smell like the sheep.

And this is the challenge to us imposed by Jesus. We are all shepherds in one way or another. We have people who we are responsible to and we should all have the same dedication like Christ the Good Shepherd.

This week around the world is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations”. Today we pray that Christ the Good Shepherd would call and choose young men and women to dedicate their lives like the Good Shepherd to become priests or religious brothers and sisters. The example of the authenticity of the leadership of Pope Francis has fostered the growth of men and women entering the seminary and the convent in various parts of the world. We hope and pray that this trend will continue and for young people who feel that they are being called to this special vocation, to have the courage to say, “Yes” and to dedicate their lives for the kingdom of God.

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