Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Sunday Reading Meditations
God knows me and calls me by name: “The Shepherd calls his own sheep by name” (Jn 10:3). I am always impressed by this truth. It is amazing that I am known by God and I am called by him! God created us and redeemed us. He knows me better than I know myself. “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name” (Is 49:1). Saint Paul says: “[...] he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him” (Eph 1:4). It is wonderful that God was already thinking about me before the creation, already thinking about each one of us from all eternity.
God knows us and calls us. However, why does he call us? In today’s Gospel, we find the answer: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Jesus wants to give us life in abundance. In the Good Shepherd, we find total correspondence to the longings of our human hearts.
The responsorial Psalm says: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23:1). Why then, in our own personal experience, do we feel the lack of so many things? This is because we do not really follow the true Good Shepherd. We are like rebel sheep and think we can find what satisfies our thirsts and hungers by ourselves. As result, we are often disappointed and anxious. It is not easy to be a humble and obedient sheep that follows the Shepherd. It is hard for us to accept an authority that guides us. For example, many Catholics do not want to follow what the Church teaches in important matters of personal life.
The individualism of our culture views obedience and discipleship as alienation. Nevertheless, we can only really find ourselves when we follow the One who knows us and calls us to receive abundant life. If we follow Christ, we can experience what is described in the Psalm: “In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul” (Ps 23). In Christ, we really can find repose and refreshment for our souls.
Our problem is that we do not really believe that Christ can totally satisfy our hungers and thirsts. We doubt that Christ can fulfill our lives. Thus, our faith becomes abstract and distant from our real aspirations. Instead of viewing Christ as a real person, we reduce Him to a pious image or religious concept. Such a Christ is not someone who knows me or calls me by name.
There is a crisis of faith. Modern culture has separated God from daily life. Even if we are Catholics and attend Mass, we are also children of this culture. In the first reading, Saint Peter says: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40). There is work we need to do; there is initiative we need to take. We can no longer remain passive members of the flock.
We live in times of confusion about the most basic things. Profound transformations are occurring in society. The current situation challenges us to live our faith in a more personal way. The social context that used to support Christian life is no more. We can no longer be anonymous sheep among the flock. Our times require sheep with a deep certainty about the Good Shepherd, sheep that are not only known by the Shepherd but who actually know their Shepherd.
“The Shepherd calls his own sheep by name.” As we celebrate the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, let us ask Our Lord to grant us the grace to hear his voice. May we hear our names uttered by the One who knows us and calls us. Amen.
Sunday Reading Meditations