Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD HAS FAITH IN GOD, HAS LOVE, MERCY, AND FORGIVENESS FOR SINNERS, AND GIVES LIFE TO THE DEAD
- Acts 2:14. 36-41;
- 1 Peter 2:20-25;
- John 10:1-10
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter! Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday and that is why the gospel reading of today is taken from the gospel of John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd. In fact the gospels of Years A, B, and C for Good Shepherd Sunday are all taken from St. John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd! Today is also Vocation Sunday, that is, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, particularly vocations to the priesthood and religious life! The Good Shepherd is the model of the Good Christian, particularly, the model of the Good Priest!
The gospel today tells us about the Good Shepherd, but before we look at the Good Shepherd, let us look at the bad shepherd in chapter 9 of the same gospel of John. In fact chapter 10 of John on the Good Shepherd (Jesus Christ) is a commentary on chapter 9 of John on the Bad Shepherd – the Pharisees (CSB/NAB). In chapter 10 of John, Jesus continues to attack the Pharisees who were the Bad Shepherds!
Chapter 9 of John is on the cure of the blind man and the reaction of the Pharisees to the cure of the blind man. The reaction of the Pharisees shows them to be bad shepherds, that is, they have no faith, they have no love, mercy, and forgiveness, and they cannot give life! The Good Shepherd on the other hand, has faith, has love, and can give life!
The Pharisees (bad shepherds) had no faith. They did not believe in the miracle, they did not believe in Jesus Christ. In fact they believed that Jesus Christ was a sinner! And in the words of Jesus Christ himself they were blind, they cannot see with the eyes of faith: “It is for judgment that I have come into this world, so that those without sight (the blind man) may see (faith) and those with sight (the Pharisees) may become blind”!
The Pharisees (bad shepherds) had no love, mercy and forgiveness! They only had law, judgment, and punishment! They said of Jesus Christ who cured the blind man: “That man cannot be from God: he does not keep the Sabbath (law)”! They condemned Jesus Christ for showing love, mercy and forgiveness to the man who was physically and spiritually blind on the Sabbath and thus breaking the Sabbath law of rest! Unlike and opposed to Jesus Christ, for the Pharisee, man is made for the law, not the law for man!
The Pharisees (the bad shepherds) cannot give life to the sinner and to the dead! They said to the blind man who was cured: “you a sinner through and through ever since you were born!” And they threw him out of the synagogue! They excommunicated him!
Again, the gospel today tells us, “The thief (the Pharisee) comes only to steal and kill and destroy”! (John 10:10)
The 3 readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, that is, he had faith, he had love, mercy, and forgiveness, and he gives life!
He had faith in God! The second reading from 1 Peter tells us that “He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was suffering he made no threats but PUT HIS TRUST IN THE UPRIGHT JUDGE”! (1 Peter 2:23).
He had love, mercy, and forgiveness! In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter tells the Jews on the day of Pentecost: “You must repent, and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”! (Acts 2:38)
Finally, Jesus Christ tells us in today’s gospel that he is the Good Shepherd who gives life: “I have come so THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL”! (John 10:10).
The Good Shepherd is the model of the Good Priest and the Bad Shepherd is the model of the Bad Priest! A good priest has faith in God, has love, mercy, and forgiveness, and gives life! A bad priest has no faith in God, but has faith in himself, in his own goodness and good will, and in his own strength and ability! A bad priest has no love, but has only the law! A bad priest cannot give life! Faith, love, and life are connected: In faith we receive God’s love, and in love we give life!
Today is “Vocation Sunday”, and today we have a message from our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II for “World Day of Prayer for Vocations”. The following are excerpts:
“’Put out into the deep!’” (Luke 5:4). “This well-known Gospel scene can serve as the background setting of the coming World Day of prayer for Vocations, which has the theme: ‘Called to put out into the deep’. This is a special occasion for reflecting on the vocation to follow Christ and, in particular, to follow him in the priesthood and the consecrated life”. No. 1
“Do not forget that today too there is need of holy priests, of persons wholly consecrated to the service of God! With this in mind, I want to repeat once more: ‘There is a pressing need to implement an extensive plan of vocation promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools, and families in the effort to foster a more attentive reflection on the essential values of life. These values reach their fulfillment in the response which each person is invited to give to God’s call, particularly when the call implies the total gift of oneself and of one’s energies for the sake of the Kingdom’ (‘Novo Millennio Ineunte,’ 46).” No. 5
“May an ardent prayer sustained by the motherly intercession of Mary, rise from every corner of the earth, to the heavenly Father to obtain “laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). May He give zealous and holy priests to every part of his flock”. No. 6
Castel Gandolfo, 11th August 2004, John Paul II.
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.