Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 22, 2018 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

We are celebrating the Good Shepherd Sunday. Today we observe the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We ask for the gift of vocations of special consecration, in response to Jesus’ appeal: “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38, Lk 10:2).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11). He is the model for everyone in the Church who has the duty of shepherding the flock. Today I would like to meditate with you about what it means to be “a good shepherd.”

Jesus says that he is the good shepherd because he gives his life for us, “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). To be good means to become gift to others. We can ask why Jesus gave his life for us. Jesus leads us to the Father. His goal is not himself but someone greater than he, “for the Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28). The good shepherd does not want to be the center of attention. He is an instrument and he understands himself as a means and not an end. Looking at Jesus, we do not only see him but in him we see the Father, “[…] he who sees me sees him who sent me” (Jn 12:45). Jesus wants us to become children of God. He wants us to see God as he is. In the second reading, Saint John says: “We are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). To see God is the purpose and the destiny of our life; it will be our fulfillment, happiness without end.

After seeing Jesus as the good shepherd, let us try to understand to what the shepherds of the Church are called. Christ is their model.

Jesus gave his life for us. In the same way, ordained ministers are called to give their lives, to offer themselves for the good of the people of God. Saint Paul says: “None of us lives for himself only […], if we live, it is for the Lord that we live […] we belong to the Lord” Rm 14:7–8). It is in belonging to Christ that it is possible to give one’s life. Here we find the profound reason for celibacy: total identification with Jesus.

As Jesus leads us to the Father, the pastor leads the people not to himself but to Christ. In the first reading, Peter explains how he cured a cripple: “[…] it was in the name of Jesus Christ […] in his name this man stands before you healed” (Acts 4:10).

The priest does not act in his name, but in the name of Jesus Christ. He is not the center, but the center is the Lord. When we become the center, we become ridiculous. The way to avoid that is to be humble servers of the Church. Priesthood is not a power or a privilege. It is service to the most important thing in the Church: the holiness of the people of God. We are instruments of that service if we also seek to be holy.

O Shepherd of all shepherds, give the gift of good shepherds to your Church.  Amen.

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