“Tender Shepherd” Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC
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Dear Followers of the Shepherd,
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is generally known as, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” The image of Jesus as the tender and loving guide continues to reveal to us an image of the Resurrected Christ. The Shepherd is not timid or shy, but strong in his desire for us to follow him to the Kingdom.
This is one of my favorite images of Jesus. Today’s gospel, John 10:1-10, offers us a text for reflection in these Easter days. I love this image because I must entrust not only my own life to Jesus’ perseverance in desiring me, but also his longing for people who are most estranged, lonely and set apart from others. Jesus is the gate. Jesus is the entry into freedom, love and acceptance.
This image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is often ignored because some assume this means that people are just dumb sheep. This is not the purpose of this image of Jesus’ Resurrection. The image is meant to be one of guidance, love and connection. Jesus knows us. He loves us. Jesus wants the best for us. Jesus chases us, protects us and brings us together. In my own prayer all year long, I rely on this image that Jesus wants to satisfy my heart and the lives of every person.
We experience many voices in our daily lives attempting to get our attention. During most of our days, we hold in our hands phones and devices that offer us opportunities to connect with people or live in our own selfishness. The internet is a positive voice of learning, but it can also become a negative voice connecting us to fear around the world. Learning to follow the Voice of the Shepherd is never easy. In fact, listening to Jesus’ love, presence and voice is extremely countercultural. As followers of Jesus, we are drawn to his mercy and forgiveness.
Learning to receive the genuine love of the Shepherd takes courage. Our faith is not just a simple pious effort, but a strong realization that it takes a lifetime for us to hear his voice and embrace a lifestyle of freedom, love, forgiveness and mercy. We become in our lives the characteristics of the one we follow.
Here are some questions to consider this week: How do you listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice and desire for you? How do you pray?
What do you need to let go of in your life to better attune to Jesus’ presence and care for you? What competing voices need to be silenced?
What does it mean for you in the Easter season to follow the Good Shepherd? How does Easter change your lifestyle?
Peace to you in these Easter Days. Let’s continue to raise our voices in praise of the Good Shepherd, the Living Christ that invites us into a life of peace and liberation.
Blessings to you all,