YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY/ 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
TOPIC: TRUE LEADERSHIP
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Jn 10:27-30 (The Good Shepherd)
THEME: “Do Not Let Yourselves Be Led Astray”
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother warns her children not to be misled by the world. It leads us in three ways: by word, with images and by works.
b) The world misleads us by word (letter b). The devil uses the word to seduce people, to hide the truth and to spread errors. Even in the explanation of the Word of God, errors are spread. The enemy, by using the word to ensnare and mislead people, is intent on taking hold of the mind of the people and to have control over them. The only solution to this is Jesus, the Truth.
c) The world misleads us with images (letter i). Immorality and obscenity are rampant in the world nowadays. All these dirty images around us are meant to destroy man’s innocence and purity and plunge him to depravity and immorality. Then people will gradually accept such moral aberration as something normal and natural. The only solution is to look at the Blessed Mother, our model of purity and innocence, who will lead us to Jesus, the Way.
d) The world misleads us by works (letter n). The works of the world are evil, rejecting God. People are led to refuse God in their lives, thereby losing the capacity to love and walk in the light. Without God, our life is meaningless and is headed to self-destruction. The only solution is to look at Jesus, our Life.
e) This warning of the Blessed Mother is intended for all her children, the beloved flock of the Lord. If we let her take our hand and follow her lead, she will guide us to her Son, Jesus the Good Shepherd. We will never be led astray, and we will remain safe and secure in the Lord sheepfold.
- The Sunday Readings
a) The Book of the Acts of the Apostles tells us about the apostolic endeavors of Paul and Barnabas. They were rejected and persecuted by the Jews. But they were determined to preach the Gospel of Jesus. They turned to the Gentiles who welcomed the Word of God with delight. They did not waste their time on those who did not accept their teachings. Instead, they shook the dust from their feet. Paul and Barnabas are the clear examples of true dedicated service to the people of God, following the example of the Good Shepherd.
b) The Responsorial Psalm is the statement of the truth that should fill us with joyful confidence and hope at all times: “We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” As members of the flock of Christ, we are safe and our well-being is always assured.
c) The Book of Revelation tells us about the vision of St. John of a “great multitude from every nation, race, people and tongue.” These are the faithful followers of the Lamb, the great company of saints giving eternal praise and glory to Almighty God. As members of God’s flock, we are destined to share in their glory. We look forward to that wonderful day when we will be counted among the blessed ones in God’s kingdom.
d) The Gospel is the Parable of the Good Shepherd. It is the only parable in the Gospel of John. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. There are several characteristics of Jesus as the Good Shepherd:
- He is the legitimate caretaker. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him.
- He knows each of the sheep of his flock; he calls them by name.
- The sheep hear and recognize his voice, and they follow him.
- He leads the sheep out into the green pastures; he gives them nourishment. He is the one who leads them and makes decisions for the good and safety of the sheep.
- He is ready to protect and defend his sheep; he is ready to lay down his life for his sheep. He considers the welfare of the sheep more than his own.
- He takes care of the sheep, not because of money, but because of love. Love is self-giving. Love for his sheep makes him truly one with them. He is ready to give his life for his sheep.
- Background Information
a) Palestine has two diverse eco-systems. The highlands are barren and cold. Such is Jerusalem, Nazareth and the whole of Judea. The main livelihood of the people is pasturing sheep. It is here that Jesus took the image of the Good Shepherd. The lowlands, especially Galilee, are fertile and near the sea. The weather here is warm since it sits below sea level. The people here are farmers and fishermen.
b) For the Hebrews, the sheep were raised more often for wool and milk, not for meat. So they are domesticated animals and are more of pets to the shepherd and his family. The shepherd knows them individually; he calls each of them by name. And the sheep know the shepherd; they recognize his voice and they follow him. The Hebrews do not use dogs to herd their sheep; it is the shepherd who takes care of them. This is how close the shepherd is to the sheep.
c) To have a clearer concept regarding a shepherd, it is important to note what he is NOT: He is not a stranger, a thief, and a hireling.
d) A stranger cannot lead the sheep. First, he is not known to them. They will not follow him. They cannot trust the person whom they do not know. Nor does he know the sheep. Second, he cannot enter the sheepfold for the gatekeeper will not allow him to enter. He has no business being there.
e) The thief is not just a stranger. He comes to steal the sheep and do harm to them; to steal, to kill and to destroy. Although he is not welcome, he still enters the sheepfold, but not through the gate. He climbs over elsewhere. His presence is unlawful.
f) A hireling is a hired man. He is neither a stranger nor a thief. He is a legitimate caretaker of the flock. But he is not a shepherd because he works only for money and for personal gain. He has no genuine concern and care for the sheep. He is there to take advantage of the sheep. He will consider first his safety and welfare before and above that of the sheep. So when danger comes, he will swiftly abandon the sheep to take care of his personal safety.
- Points for Reflection:
a) The parable of the Good Shepherd is a beautiful illustration of the tender and loving mercy of God. He sincerely desires our welfare and salvation. Jesus said: “I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). And even if we are lost, He will leave the ninety-nine and look for us. That is the love and mercy of God for us sinful humanity.
b) We are fortunate to belong to God’s flock. We are the sheep of God’s flock; Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He assures us of His protection, guidance and salvation. But there is one important condition: “The sheep hear his voice and they follow him.” If we want to be saved, let us be obedient always to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He does not desire to punish us. But when we disobey Him, we inflict punishment on ourselves. If we continue disobeying Him, we can be thrown out of the flock (excommunication); we can lose our membership in the Church, the flock of God.
c) God’s mercy is not only for those who belong to His flock. He wants all men to be saved. According to His plan, one day will come when all people will be united as one under Jesus the Good Shepherd. “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). As followers of Jesus, we should share in this vision of God. We should also have a welcoming attitude to non- Catholic Christians. They are also Christ’s sheep, but not yet belonging to His flock.
d) The sheep are weak and dumb animals. They are so vulnerable that they have to be confined within the protection of the sheepfold and guarded by a loving shepherd against all dangers. That is what we are. As human beings we are weak and vulnerable. But in weakness, we have strength because it is Jesus and the Father who protect and strengthen us. “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father is greater than all and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:29-30). The song says: “And now let the weak say ‘I am strong’, let the poor say ‘I am rich’ because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks.”
e) This parable is also a strong warning. Jesus talks about thieves and robbers, as well as hirelings.
The thieves and robbers are the false prophets before Christ came. They did not come through the gate. He warns us that after Him, there will be more thieves and robbers who will come to mislead people and try to destroy God’s flock (Mt 24:11). We see many of them now. A prophet is the spokesperson of God. He tells the people what God wants to tell them. He preaches and teaches God’s word. A false prophet deceives people into thinking that what they teach and preach come from God. So when we see a preacher or evangelizer who performs healings and is very charismatic, we should not believe him right away. We must first examine and evaluate the contents of his teachings. In order to do that, we ourselves should know the true teachings of Jesus. If the teachings are not according to the genuine teachings of Christ, beware! He must be a false prophet. The devil can disguise himself as a very charismatic and powerful preacher. There are many priests now, and even bishops who are not anymore faithful to the true teachings of Jesus. They are usually proud and always try to make themselves the center of attraction, and not Jesus. They preach, not the word of God, but their own word. So they try to entertain people by jokes and other antics in order to win their admiration and adulation, showbiz style. They preach what the people want to hear, not what God wants them to hear. Some of them even go to the extent of insulting people, cursing and uttering bad words and expletives in the Church and during Mass! Though bishops and priests, they are considered false prophets. They try to lead the people to them, and away from Christ.
The hirelings or hired men are legitimate caretakers of the flock, but they are not considered shepherds. They are there only for the money and for their personal advantage and ambition. Such are the Jewish leaders, the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus said, ‘Follow what they say, but do not follow their example.” Nowadays, there are many such hirelings in the Church. They are the priests and bishops who cannot be considered pastors or shepherds. They have no real concern for the people. They do not stand up to defend the welfare of the people. Bootlickers (sipsip) that they are, they blindly obey the whimsical orders of their superiors even if they know these would put their people at a disadvantage. Their commitment is not to the flock they are supposed to serve but to the rich sponsors who give them comfort and luxury. They would readily choose an appointment, even outside the parish, where there is clear monetary reward, but would seldom be interested in attending meetings or in giving formation programs to parishioners simply because there is no pay.
Jesus warns us against hired men, thieves and robbers. They are not shepherds of God’s flock. Can we identify who are the false prophets and hirelings in our parish?
- Closing –
Song: “Ang Panginoon ang Aking Pastol”
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR THE B.E.C.
- Malapit na ang halalan sa Pilipinas. Ano ang mga katangian ng mga lider na ating pipiliin?
- Ihambing ang ating mga lider ngayon ng ating bayan at ng simbahan sa halimbawa ni Hesus, and Mabuting Pastol.
- Ano ang ating magagawa upang maging mabuti at maayos ang pamumuno at paglilingkod ng ating mga lider sa bayan at sa simbahan?
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