1. Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep…This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again” (Jn10:11-18). Taken from today’s Sunday gospel.
2. Today is the Good Shepherd Sunday. The day we reflect on our identity as sheep, members of a flock that has the Lord as its shepherd. Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd. He outlines the qualities of a good shepherd: lays down his life for the sheep, does not run away when a dangerous animal threatens the sheep, he is more interested in the welfare of the sheep than with his pay, he knows the condition of his flock, he has the power to lay down his life and the power to take it up again, simply put, he is immortal.
3. Psalm 23 further elaborates the services that the Good Shepherd renders to his sheep. With the Good Shepherd the sheep lacks nothing, it feeds in a fresh and green pastures, it is lead along the right path, it rests near flowing water, if it walks in dangerous terrain it moves confidently without fear because his shepherd is trustworthy and powerful, it is assured of goodness and mercy all the days of its existence because of having the Good Shepherd as his own.
4. Today when fear and insecurity has become a new normal in our country we should feel the need to stick to the Good Shepherd. We notice how the rich and powerful count on their security men for their movements. Once the security arrangement is done they can move with confidence. Recently we have also witnessed how the security men are also being hunted down by unknown gunmen. In the end we have come to realize that there is no place to hide. The death of Idris Derby, the gallant Chadian president last week in the battle with rebels affirms the fact that “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in armed security men” (Psalm 118:9)
5. Trusting in the Lord, the Good Shepherd, ever ready to lay down his life for his flock, is a Christian attitude. It is part of our Christian identity. However, today one can notice signs of identity crisis among some Christians. Such persons live in a way that shows that they have forgotten that the Lord is their shepherd and that as long as they remain in the flock they will be protected by the immortal shepherd. Such persons in their fear for death commit themselves to inferior forces of occultic energies because they want protection. They forget that ‘those who rush to other gods bring much troubles upon themselves” (Psalm 16:4). Some others go so low as to carry on their bodies the works of human hands in the name of charms. This is a sure sign of identity crisis. There are certainly evil and wicked men and forces. We do not deny this but with our Good Shepherd, we affirm that “the Spirit who is in you is greater than the spirit who is in those who belong to the world”(1Jn4:4). If a snake forgets its identity it will end up being used by children as an ordinary rope to tie their faggots.
6. Are you conscious of your identity as a sheep that is shepherded by an immortal Good Shepherd? This shepherd knows you by name, he knows your struggles and battles. Always try to remember that he will prefer to lay down his life for you than run away when you are facing danger. Ask him to teach you to trust him so that even if you walk in the shadows of death you will keep your peace. May your constant refrain be: ‘the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”
Finally, pray for more vocation to the consecrated life, support and encourage those involved in the mission of the Church or become a missionary.
@ Vita, 25/04/21