DETAILED HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 8 2022
R1 – Acts 13:14,43-52
R2 – Rev 7:9,14-17
GOSPEL – John 10:27-30
A funny story was once told about a young priest who was teaching Psalm 23 to a group of young catechumens. He told them that they were sheep who needed a shepherd. Then the priest asked, “If you are the sheep, then who is going to be the shepherd?,” obviously indicating himself. A silence of a few seconds followed. Then a young boy said, “Jesus. Jesus is the Shepherd.” The young priest, obviously caught by surprise and disappointment, said to the boy, “Well then, who am I?” The boy frowned thoughtfully and then said, “I guess you must be a sheep watchman. Only Jesus is the Good Shepherd.”
Beloved in Christ, indeed only Jesus is the “GOOD SHEPHERD.” Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. Traditionally, every 4th Sunday of Easter is called, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” It is also the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.”
The readings of this Sunday’s liturgy invite us to reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, who is the ideal, true and prototype of all shepherds.
In the first reading, we see how Paul and Barnabas listened and followed Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We equally see how they were rejected as they preached the good news.
In today’s gospel passage, Jesus emphasizes the sacrifice of his own self and his life itself; indicating that he is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. The Gospel specifically, offers us some consolation and comfort, stemming from Jesus’ exact words, “And no one will ever steal them away from me.” This expresses Jesus’ unwavering concern for our safety and good. There is equally a huge challenge that accompanies this assurance – The challenge is that pastors should be good shepherds to those entrusted to their care, while their flock of lay people should respond as good sheep by listening to the shepherd.
*THE IMAGERY AND ROLE OF A SHEPHERD IN THE BIBLE*
The latin title “pastor” means shepherd. A shepherd from the traditional perspective is one who leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects his flock. Such are the responsibilities reserved not only for church leaders, equally for political and civil leaders, family and organisational leaders, etc.
However, in the Old Testament, the image of the Shepherd is often applied to God as well as to the leaders of the people. The book of Exodus represents Yahweh several times as a Shepherd. The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel compare Yahweh’s care and protection of His people to that of a shepherd. Ezekiel represents God as a loving Shepherd who searches diligently for the lost sheep. Psalm 23 is David’s famous picture of God as The Good Shepherd: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
In the New Testament: Introducing himself as the Good Shepherd of his flock, Jesus makes the following claims in today’s Gospel.
(1) He knows his sheep and his sheep hear his voice (We ask ourselves whether we really know those entrusted to our care?)
(2) He gives eternal life to us, his sheep (by giving us Faith in him through Baptism, and then by strengthening that Faith through Confirmation, by nourishing our souls with the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Bible, and by making our society holy through the Sacraments of Matrimony and the priesthood (Can we actually make sacrifices via, our time, talent and treasure for those under our care?)
(3) He protects his sheep by placing them in the loving hands of his Almighty Father (Are parents and superiors who should protect their children and vulnerable adults actually guarding or devouring?)
(4) He goes in search of stray lambs and heals the sick ones through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the sick (Do we abandon disown those who ain’t measuring up to standards?)
(5) Jesus died for his sheep to free us from our sins, giving us life (Can we lay down our lives for the sheep under our charge?).
(1) *WE SHOULD BECOME GOOD SHEPHERDS*
A shepherd from its Latin rendition simply means, “one who leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects a flock.”
In other words, everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence we have religious, political, professional and domestic shepherds. So, parents, pastors, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds. We can only become good shepherds by imitating Jesus’ shepherding model of loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers.
(2) *WE SHOULD BECOME GOOD AND LISTENING SHEEP*
One of the major characteristics of a good sheep in today’s gospel is adherence to the voice of the shepherd. We then ought to listen to Jesus who speaks to us in the word and in the Sacraments. He equally speaks to us through the priests and ministers of the church (magisterium). Anything short of that comes from the evil one.
Finally, there have always been shepherds of various kinds with good memory for names of their sheep:
(i) Napoleon, “who knew thousands of his soldiers by name . . .”
(ii)James A. Farley a great American politician, “who claimed he knew 50,000 people by their first name . . .”
(iii) Charles Schwab, a renowned American investor and employer “who knew the names of all 8,000 of his employees at Homestead Mill . . .”
(iv) Charles W. Eliot, “who, during his forty years as president of Harvard, earned the reputation of knowing all the students by name each year . . .”
But can you imagine Christ knowing all his sheep by name? That’s millions and billions of people over 2,000 years. No wonder we call him Master, Jesus, watching over his flock, calling each by name.
MAY THE GOOD LORD BEND OUR WILL TO ALWAYS COMFORT TO HIS WILL AS GOOD MEMBERS OF HIS FLOCK. AMEN.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA._