Sunday, April 25th 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
On this fourth Sunday of Easter, we hear that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. Our readings today call us to reflect inward — do we allow Jesus to shepherd our lives?
In our Gospel Jesus reveals His radical love for us. He says, “I will lay down my life for the sheep.” Jesus tells us that we are His. We can compare this relationship to that of a loving parent to their child. The parent gives without much in return and if any evil came near the child, the parent would do anything, even lay down their life for their child.
We belong to Jesus Christ, even more than a child belongs to its parents. He created us and he sustains our lives each day. Even though evil continues to persist in the world, so Jesus willingly laid down His life for us and died on the cross at Calvary for our salvation. He is our Good Shepherd, whether we remain in His flock or go astray.
But just as a child is happiest in the arms of its parent, so too are we happiest in the flock of the Good Shepherd. Even though a sheep may go astray, we also may stray from God, test our limits, and even follow false shepherds and follow an evil path.
Thankfully, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for us knowing every sin we have or will ever commit. Therefore, let us examine our hearts and return to Jesus’ flock. We do not even need to find the way. He is right there always waiting to guide us back home.
In 1963 Pope Saint Paul VI designated the Feast of the Good Shepherd as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray for an increased response to God’s call to holiness and service. We are also invited to honor all vocations given to us at baptism. Whether our vocation is to marriage, priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life, or the single life, we pray that we will unite our hearts and hands in furthering God’s kingdom at Saint Joachim Catholic Church and the greater church.
Last week Robert Ward was installed as an acolyte on his journey towards ordination to Permanent Deacon come October. Ethen Ocampo just completed his second year of College Seminary at Mount Angel and returned home for the summer.
Let us look inward this week and ask ourselves, ‘who is my Shepherd?’ and do I hear His voice and follow Him or ‘have I gone astray?’ Let us identify the areas in our life we may have neglected. Let us ask Jesus to bring us safely home as we pray for His mercy and seek His forgiveness, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we are invited to start over again.