YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER (GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY)
HOMILY THEME: THE GOOD SHEPHERD OF GOD’S PEOPLE
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: There is always a stable relationship between the Shepherd and the flock. The sight of the Shepherd is always the joy of the sheep as the Shepherd’s fulfilment is in the blossoming and fruitfulness of the sheep. Through the pastoral guidance of the Shepherd, the sheep is led to a place of green and nutritious pasture and through the attention of the sheep to the Shepherd, they are kept safe from harm and destruction. In the tender care of the Shepherd towards the sheep, the shepherd concretely lives his identity. This is the form of our relationship with the Good Shepherd! May we be attentive to the voice of the Good Shepherd as to be with Him in eternity; Amen.
Every Fourth Sunday of Easter is also called the Good Shepherd Sunday or Vocations Sunday in which we recognise the presence of Christ in our midst as the Good Shepherd of God’s people and the concrete exercise of this identity through the instrumentality of all those who are called in a special way to participate in this role of shepherding; especially priests and religious. The title of the Good Shepherd Sunday is informed by the theme that runs through the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Saint John from where the Gospel is taken in all of the three circles of the Liturgical Calendar. On a day like this, the Holy Mother Church enjoins us all to pray for credible vocations to the Priesthood and to the Religious Life. In one way or the other we are called to be shepherds after the example of Christ and together also we belong to His sheepfold. It is Christ, and Him alone, Who is the Good Shepherd! All other human shepherds participate, according to the measure which Christ has allotted each, in this Christocentric ministry.
The Gospel Reading (Jn 10:27-30) of today directed our attention to the intimate relationship between Christ the Good Shepherd and the sheep; “the sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” Christ the Good Shepherd speaks to us every day and in different forms and through different means. It is through listening to the Good Shepherd that we come to know Him and by knowing Him deeper and closely, we are attracted to build personal and intimate relationships with Him. It is by listening to the Good Shepherd that we are disposed to follow Him and to do what He commands us to do and by following Him we place ourselves in the farthest distance and in a place where it is impossible for the Evil One to steal us from Him.
The modern time is faced with many difficulties and challenges in listening and understanding the voice of the Good shepherd. The presence of countless number of voices, which often come in the forms of noise or disguised perilous voices, inviting us to different and vicious forms of life, has deafened some people that they neither hear nor are they able to distinguish the voice of the Good Shepherd. This was seen in the group in the First Reading (Acts 13:14, 43-52) who “prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said.” We confront these blasphemies everyday of our lives; in the forms of ideologies, philosophies, lies, modern movements that do not want to hear anything about God and the Gospel message, etc. As against all of these, only the Voice of the Good Shepherd invites and strengthens us to truly live. Listening to and obeying this voice that speaks of peace, we join this huge and uncountable number of people who “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.” Where is His voice heard? The voice of the Good Shepherd is heard in the Church through her celebrations of the mysteries of Christ and her witness to the truth of the Gospel. In the ministers of the Church who through their ministry and exemplary way of life concretely prolong the presence of the Good Shepherd in our midst! In all the baptised who bear positive and fruitful witness to the Gospel by their way of life and in all men and women of good-will.
Christ the Good Shepherd, give us the grace that through listening and obeying You we may remain in Your Sheepfold and may You bless all human shepherds, especially priests and religious, to imitate You in all things; Amen. Happy Good Shepherd Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE