HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF THE SHEPHERD!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 8 2022
(ACTS 13:14,43-52; REVELATION 7:9,14B-17; JOHN 10:27-30)
Last Sunday Peter received absolution from his three counts denial of his master our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ and was eventually reinstated as the chief shepherd of God’s people and today we celebrate that office as it draws strength from Christ the Eternal Chief Shepherd. Today’s readings pose an important question to our faith; who do we listen to? Jesus’ gaze over manhood is that of the Good Shepherd, who accepts under his responsibility the sheep that are given to him by the Father and takes good care of each one of them. Between him and them He creates a link, a recognition and faithfulness instinct: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them; they follow me” (Jn 10:27). The Good Shepherd’s voice is always an invitation to follow him, to enter his magnetic circle of influence.
It is said that the grace of God is like radio stations or television channels and a lot of them are on at the same time, but you only get the one you tune to. St. Augustine, before the vast mystery of the divine election, used to answer: “God does not leave you if you do not leave him”; He will not forsake you if you do not forsake him. Do not therefore put the blame on God, or the Church or on others, because you are the only one to blame for your infidelity towards God. God does not deny anyone his grace, and this is precisely our strength: strongly stick to God’s grace. It is no merit of ours; we have simply been blessed.
According to St. Paul, Faith comes through hearing that is by listening to the Word of Christ. So we run a greater risk when we feign deafness, to miss the Good Shepherd’s voice, because our head is full of noise and other dissonant or discordant voices. We have a wonderful instance of that in the second reading where both Paul and Barnabas spoke up; Although he came to the Jews first, it was also his plan to save all nations. Unfortunately, due to ignorance, pride, and stubbornness the Jews rejected him. However, this became a blessing for the gentiles who are now God’s elect. Like the Jews of Christ’s time, is there any way we are rejecting the good news today? “Any form of stubbornness, or resistance against the good news we hear every day is a sign of rejecting Christ as the Jews did. Also, one could reject Christ through lack of faith, or even by not recognizing him in others. The vision of John in the second reading says it all and calls to mind Christ’s words “in my fathers house there are many places to live in”.
We may be less familiar with the metaphors of sheep and shepherd than those to whom Jesus spoke. The image of Jesus as Good Shepherd and the community of followers as his sheep has endured over the centuries as a primary image in our faith tradition. Its power to describe the relationship between Jesus and his followers transcends direct experience with sheep. The image speaks to us about the protection, security, and care that shepherds represent for their sheep. Hence, if we heed the voice of Christ, we are assured of his love, care, and protection. Christ our good shepherd never fails just like a mother.
Today’s modern culture offers many role models through social media and women’s magazines. However, often these role models are either all together Wrong or they offer a very Limited and Unrealistic View of True Motherhood. Mother’s Day in our country is in May because May is the month of our Blessed Mother. They say there is no love like a mother’s love. A mother loves her child simply because the child is. A mother’s love for her child is unconditional. All mothers who wish to be true to their high calling need only look to the woman who became the greatest mother of all. Born into humble surroundings, she was called by God to be the mother of the Son of God. She affirmed her obedience to the call of God and lived out her vocation throughout her entire life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, is the true model of motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day to All mothers: Aspiring, Biological and Spiritual
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara