Dear Followers of the Good Shepherd,
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, we listen to and pray with this short passage, John 10: 27-30. This Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally called, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This is one of my favorite images of Jesus Christ. He cares for us. He recognizes us. We are known. We are his. We listen in love. We come to know and hear his voice.
This short gospel starts off with a bold statement from the mouth of Jesus. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” I suspect this might be all we ever need to hear from him. In this Easter season, we take these words seriously. We have spent the Lenten season sorting through the pain of life to find Jesus at our core. He is our identity. Nothing else takes the place of such love. In his resurrection, new life abounds in us. We need to take time for such prayer, to quiet our lives to hear the voice of the Shepherd. He is our guide if we first get out of our own way. Then we can open our ears and hearts to the sound of his voice. In baptism, we belong to such love. Easter reveals to us that our commitment in baptism offers us the desire to hear his voice, to strengthen our following, and to assure us of our purpose on earth. So, at Easter, we listen carefully and with love.
This scripture invites us into a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. The Easter event is our door to new life, to new possibilities, to new healing and forgiveness. We rest in the assurance that Jesus cares for us no matter what, no matter how we shun his love or turn our backs on his invitation. Over the course of time, we learn to follow him. I believe this may take us an entire lifetime to explore and to follow.
In this short passage, we also hear that Jesus and the Father are one. In many daily gospels in the Lenten season, they revealed such unity to us. Over again, the connection to Jesus and the Father was revealed in our liturgies. Without this connection to the Divine, Jesus would never become the Messiah, the one who brings us life eternal. Easter reveals the reasons then why this unity is so important. Jesus does not act on his own to bring us forgiveness, truth, and beauty in our lives and in our world.
What does it mean for us to pray with the image of the Good Shepherd? How in your life do you need to be found? How in your life do you need to know God will not abandon you? These are important and vital questions for us to consider in the Easter season. I believe the Shepherd chases us down. He embraces us when we want to squirm our way out of his arms. He forgives us when we believe we must do all the forgiving on our own. He loves us when we are unlovable. He speaks when we don’t speak well of others. He claims us when we feel abandoned and lost. He also offers us eternal life when we feel our suffering is the only thing we cling to.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be chased down by the Shepherd we call, “Good.” Easter is the time for such prayer and surrender to such good.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me…”
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor