4th Sunday of Easter (C) – 12th May 2019 (Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday)

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30 

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today in our diocese of Sandakan, we have 7 priests and 1 bishop! Today we also have 12 seminarians in our seminary, 5 in Kota Kinabalu and 7 in Kuching. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the upkeep of our seminary and our seminarians.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!

Today, let us also reflect on “Evangelization” and “Pastoral Care”. The two themes are related. In evangelization we proclaim the good news, so that others may believe and be baptized! In pastoral care we continue to love and care for the baptized!

In fact these two themes were present in the longer form of the gospel of last Sunday (Jn 21:1-19; SM; Faley; Brown)! In the shorter form of the gospel of last Sunday, Peter was presented to us as the fisherman, the fisher of men, to catch men for God, that is, evangelization; but the longer form of the gospel presented Peter to us as the shepherd who feeds Jesus’ sheep, that is, pastoral care!

Today the first reading also tells us about evangelization, and the second reading and the gospel tell us about pastoral care!

Three weeks ago on Easter Vigil Night many of our brothers and sisters received the three sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! We need to continue to love and care for them! We need to invite them to be with us in the Alpha Course, the Prayer Meetings, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Legion of Mary, etc.!

Most importantly, parents and godparents must make sure that our newly baptised and confirmed attend Mass every Sunday! The shepherds must make sure that the sheep eat and drink every Sunday! Again, a happy Good Shepherd Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 22nd July 2018

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD 

  • Jeremiah 23:1-6;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 2:13-18
  • Mark 6:30-34

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus and the “apostles” went to a lonely place in order to rest and to eat, but the people followed them. More importantly, the gospel tells us that although Jesus was tired and hungry, he had pity on the people; for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he went on to teach them at some length! (Faley; Gilhooley) Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep! (Jn 10:11-18)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the good shepherd! (CCB) But the first reading begins by telling us about the bad shepherds of Israel, that is, the bad kings of Israel. The bad shepherd-kings of Israel were unfaithful to God and were unjust to the people of God. As shepherds they did not pasture the sheep. They did not provide for the sheep, but they provided for themselves. They did not take care of the sheep. The sheep were scattered. As a result, God will punish the bad shepherd-kings of Israel.

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will bring back the remnants of Israel from the foreign countries where they were dispersed. And God will give them shepherds that will care for them and pasture them. The sheep will increase in numbers and none of them will be lost.

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that God will give them a good shepherd/king who will be a descendent of David! He will be called “Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice”. (Jr 23:6; NJB) Or “The Lord Our Salvation”. (Jr 23:6; GNB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the good shepherd. (NJB) The responsorial psalm tells us that the good shepherd is the Lord himself! And if the Lord himself is the good shepherd; we will not need or even want anything! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Ps 22 (23):1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas:

The first stanza tells us that the good shepherd will provide us with food and drink:

“Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (vv. 2-3a; SM)

The second stanza tells us that the good shepherd will guide (staff) and protect (rod) us. (HCSB):

“He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.” (vv. 3b-4; SM)

The third stanza on the host of the “messianic banquet” (NJB) tells us that the good shepherd will provide us with spiritual food and drink in the Eucharist (Fuller):

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (v. 5; SM)  

And the fourth stanza tells us that the Lord’s goodness and love (CSB; GNB) will follow us all the days of our lives and that we will praise God in his temple forever (Faley; Craghan):

“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” (v. 6; SM)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) are united in Jesus Christ! The Law of Moses divided the Jews from the non-Jews with the Jews having the privileges and the non-Jews disadvantaged, but Jesus Christ through his death abolished the Law of Moses and replaced it with the Love of God the Father, thus uniting the Jews with the non-Jews and uniting both Jews and non-Jews with God the Father!

Even today the Law of Moses cannot unite the Jews with the non-Jews; only the Love of God in Jesus Christ can unite the Jews with the non-Jews! Even today the Law of Moses cannot unite the peoples of the world; only the Love of God in Jesus Christ can unite the peoples of the world and unite the peoples of the world with God!

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us good shepherds in the persons of priests, religious, catechists, lay leaders, prayer leaders, community leaders, etc. We ask God to give us good shepherds that teach the word of God, that pastures the sheep, that provides material and spiritual food and drink for the sheep, that guides and protects the sheep, that unites the sheep, etc.! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 10th December 2017

Theme: LET US PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Isaiah 40:1-5. 9-11;
  • Psalm 84 (85):9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • 2 Peter 3:8-14
  • Mark 1:1-8

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year B. There are four Sundays in Advent. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time.

Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in “memory”, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in “mystery”, and Jesus Christ will come at the End of Time in “majesty”!

The three comings of Jesus Christ are related. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in “memory”. He died rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. He continues to come to us every Christmas in “mystery” in the Holy Spirit. And he will come again at the End of Time in “majesty” when everything will be completed, perfected and fulfilled in him by the Holy Spirit!

The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time. The gospel today tells us that John the Baptist prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by telling them to repent and confess their sins. The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by confessing our sins. That is why during this time of Advent, we have penitential services and individual confessions!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will baptize us not only with water, but with the holy water of the Holy Spirit which cleanses us from sin and death and gives us new life!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will come as the Good Shepherd who feeds his sheep, carries his sheep, embraces his sheep and gives rest to his sheep!

This image of the Good Shepherd is developed by Jesus in the parable of the Lost Sheep (Mt 18:12-14) and the parable of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11-18). Thus we read in the first reading:

“He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.” (Is 40:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for God’s love, mercy, salvation, justice, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, etc.!

The responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us love, mercy, salvation, justice, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, etc.! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; CSB)

“Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. The second reading tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “living holy and saintly lives”, and by living “lives without spot or stain”, but more importantly, the second reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be “the new heavens and new earth”! Thus we read in the second reading:

“You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, …. What we are waiting for is what he promised; the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.” (2 Pt 3:11-14; SM)

Let us then prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time by repentance, by confessing our sins, by living holy and saintly lives, and by living lives without spot or stain, so that when Jesus Christ comes he will find us at peace! A happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 7th April 2017 (Vocation Sunday)

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.

 

Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (C) Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday – 17th April 2016

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

 

The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

 

The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

 

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

 

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!

 

Today, let us also reflect on “Evangelization” and “Pastoral Care”. The two themes are related. In evangelization we proclaim the good news, so that others may believe and be baptized! In pastoral care we continue to love and care for the baptized!

In fact these two themes were present in the longer form of the gospel of last Sunday (Jn 21:1-19; SM; Faley; Brown)! In the shorter form of the gospel of last Sunday, Peter was presented to us as the fisherman, the fisher of men, to catch men for God, that is, evangelization; but the longer form of the gospel presented Peter to us as the shepherd who feeds Jesus’ sheep, that is, pastoral care!

Today the first reading also tells us about evangelization, and the second reading and the gospel tell us about pastoral care!

Three weeks ago on Easter Vigil Night our brothers and sisters received the three sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! We need to continue to love and care for them! We need to invite them to be with us in the Alpha Course, the Prayer Meetings, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Legion of Mary, etc.!

Most importantly, parents and godparents must make sure that our newly baptised and confirmed attend Mass every Sunday! The shepherds must make sure that the sheep eat and drink every Sunday! Again, a happy Good Shepherd Sunday to all of you!  Amen!

19th July 2015 – 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD

  • Jeremiah 23:1-6;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 2:13-18
  • Mark 6:30-34

Today is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus and the “apostles” went to a lonely place in order to rest and to eat, but the people followed them. More importantly, the gospel tells us that although Jesus was tired and hungry, he had pity on the people; for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he went on to teach them at some length! (Faley; Gilhooley) Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep! (Jn 10:11-18)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the good shepherd! (CCB) But the first reading begins by telling us about the bad shepherds of Israel, that is, the bad kings of Israel. The bad shepherd-kings of Israel were unfaithful to God and were unjust to the people of God. As shepherds they did not pasture the sheep. They did not provide for the sheep, but they provided for themselves. They did not take care of the sheep. The sheep were scattered. As a result, God will punish the bad shepherd-kings of Israel.

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will bring back the remnants of Israel from the foreign countries where they were dispersed. And God will give them shepherds that will care for them and pasture them. The sheep will increase in numbers and none of them will be lost.

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that God will give them a good shepherd/king who will be a descendent of David! He will be called “Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice”. (Jr 23:6; NJB) Or “The Lord Our Salvation”. (Jr 23:6; GNB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the good shepherd. (NJB) The responsorial psalm tells us that the good shepherd is the Lord himself! And if the Lord himself is the good shepherd; we will not need or even want anything! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (Ps 22 (23):1; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas:

The first stanza tells us that the good shepherd will provide us with food and drink:

“Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (vv. 2-3a; SM)

The second stanza tells us that the good shepherd will guide (staff) and protect (rod) us. (HCSB):

“He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.” (vv. 3b-4; SM)

The third stanza on the host of the “messianic banquet” (NJB) tells us that the good shepherd will provide us with spiritual food and drink in the Eucharist (Fuller):

“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (v. 5; SM)

And the fourth stanza tells us that the Lord’s goodness and love (CSB; GNB) will follow us all the days of our lives and that we will praise God in his temple forever (Faley; Craghan):

“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” (v. 6; SM)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that both Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles) are united in Jesus Christ! The Law of Moses divided the Jews from the non-Jews with the Jews having the privileges and the non-Jews disadvantaged, but Jesus Christ through his death abolished the Law of Moses and replaced it with the Love of God the Father, thus uniting the Jews with the non-Jews and uniting both Jews and non-Jews with God the Father!

Even today the Law of Moses cannot unite the Jews with the non-Jews; only the Love of God in Jesus Christ can unite the Jews with the non-Jews! Even today the Law of Moses cannot unite the peoples of the world; only the Love of God in Jesus Christ can unite the peoples of the world and unite the peoples of the world with God!

 Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us good shepherds in the persons of priests, religious, catechists, lay leaders, prayer leaders, community leaders, etc. We ask God to give us good shepherds that teach the word of God, that pastures the sheep, that provides material and spiritual food and drink for the sheep, that guides and protects the sheep, that unites the sheep, etc.! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

26th April 2015 – 4th Sunday of Easter

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD LOVES AND LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS SHEEP IN OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMAND OF THE FATHER 

  • Acts 4:8-12;
  • Psalm 117 (118):1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
  • 1 John 3:1-2
  • John 10:11-18

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical Year B. Today we also celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday. The themes of “Good Shepherd” and “Vocation” are related. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare” meaning “to call”, particularly the call to the priesthood and religious life! The image of the Good Shepherd is the image of the good priest or good religious!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel tells us that the Good Shepherd has four characteristics (Jn 10:14-18; CE):

(i) The Good Shepherd knows and loves God his Father and is known and loved by God his Father. (In biblical language, ‘knowledge’ is love. NJBg)

(ii) The Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and is known and loved by his sheep.

(iii) The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep in obedience to the command of God his Father.

(iv) The Good Shepherd unites his sheep into one flock.

 

The good priest or religious also has theses four characteristics:

(i) A good priest or religious knows and loves God the Father and is known and loved by God the Father. That is, a good priest or religious must be a man or woman of prayer, of the word of God, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. (Pope’s Message)

(ii) A good priest or religious knows and loves the people of God and is known and loved by the people of God! That is why we have BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to share and pray on the word of God in a personal and spiritual way, so that we will know God, love him, serve him and be happy with him; and so that we will know one another, love one another, serve one another and be happy with one another!

(iii) A good priest or religious is one who lays down his or her life for the people of God in obedience to the command of God. A good priest or religious does not only love and serve God and the people of God, but he or she also suffers and sacrifices for God and the people of God, in order to sanctify and save the world! The word “sacrifice”, radically means “to make holy”, that is, to sanctify and save! (CE)

(iv) A good priest or religious unites the people of God. He or she unites the different communities in the Church and he or she unites the different peoples of the world! Thus the Church becomes a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world!

 

Today is Vocation Sunday and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. In his message, our Pope also said that vocation to the priesthood or religious life basically means to love and serve God, and to love and serve the people of God! But more importantly, our Pope also said that vocation comes from the love of God. Thus the theme of his message: “Vocations, the Gift of the love of God”! Our love and service of God and the people of God are only a response to the love and call of God which is a free gift of God’s initiative! That is why we have to pray for vocations!

 

Today in our Diocese of Sandakan we have one bishop, seven priests (two in Tawau, two in Lahad Datu, two in Sandakan, and one in Telupid), eleven seminarians and aspirants (six in Kuching, two in “Initiation Year” in Kota Kinabalu, and three in “English Year” in Kota Kinabalu). We have another two seminarians, one for the Franciscan priesthood and one for the Carmelite priesthood. Both of them are from Tawau! Let us pray for our Bishop, our priests and our seminarians and let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Pray especially for the two priests in our parish that they may be good priests. Today the first and second collections will be given to our Bishop for the seminary and seminarians, that is, our future priests! Thank you and God bless you.