JESUS IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD. 4th Sunday of Easter (Yr A) Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1Pet 2:20b-25; Jn 10:1-10. By Revd. Fr. Andrew ‘Dare Odeyemi.

Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, is called World Vocations Sunday. It is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Hence this Sunday is set aside to pray for Vocations worldwide. We pray specially for Seminarians and Novices who are in formation houses.

The Scripture lessons of today are about shepherds. According to the Gospel reading, a shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects his flock — responsibilities that belong to every leader. Unlike the hired or paid shepherds, who behaves quite differently, who do not care for the sheep becuase of their self-interest.

We are specially called upon today to reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who devotedly taking care of His flock and who risks His life to seek and to save the straying.

Today’s Gospel text offers us both comfort and challenge. The comforting Good News is that Jesus the Good Shepherd knows us personally, loves us and provides for us. He even looks for us whenever we go astray. He saves us from the enemy, Satan; He frees us from our bondage and heals our wound by sacrificing His own life for us. He dies for us so that we may live.

In the same vein, the Gospel text also challenges us to be good shepherds to those entrusted to our care. Every one who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd. Hence, every Christian is a shepherd, he/she ought to guide people in the way of the Lord. Therefore, in our various capacities as leaders, we are called to be Good Shepherds like Christ.

We are all leaders in one way or the other, as priests and religious, catechist, lecturers/teachers, government officials, politicians, parents, doctors or nurses, bosses, title holders in Church or our local communities. We are called to love and care for those under our care like Jesus did, we are called to be selfless in serving them, to sacrifice for them, and to show them good examples.

Every Christian is called to be Good Shepherd, especially those who are called specifically to the priesthood or religious life. Since the spiritual growth of Christian communities depend on the quality of their shepherds. The leaders of the Church have a lot to do as shepherds. It is the duty of our Pastors to nurture their flock’s faith. We ought to lead by examples. We ought to resemble the one who called us by being selfless in our services in the Church and in the society. We must imitate Jesus who sacrifice Himself for the mankind. We must avoid discrimination in our dealings with the people. It is also our duty to support our our flocks with prayer not to curse or to insult them.

The parents also have an important role to play as shepherds over their chilldren. They must be especially careful of their duties as role models for their children by leading exemplary lives. Parents must protect and defend their children against modern predators and moral poison of this age. Parents should be interested in their children, they should be interested in the type of book their children read, the type of the film they watch, the company they keep, and the type of cloth they wear. Today, we see some of our youths going naked in the streets in the name of the latest fashion, some decorate their rooms with ponographies, and some are addited to drug, and some parents don’t see anything wrong in all these. Good parents must take note of this. They must not too far from their children. They must be in touch with them even in schools.

In the same vein, the duty of a shepherd belongs to all Christians because every Christian should be model to the people around him/her. He/he has the obligation to be good shepherd in school, in place of work and everywhere. Some shepherds, unfortunately feast on the sheep they ought to protect. For instance, some lecturers, pastors, teachers, bosses and directors feed on their female employees/members. This is not the example Christ laid before us. Every one ought to be a good shepherd in his own particular environment. Every good deed we perform on behalf of our fellow men and women is a proof that we are playing the part of the Good Shepherd to others.

Lastly, just as we are being called to be good shepherds wherever we finds ourselves, we are also being called to be good sheep by always listening to God. We can only be good sheep when we listen to the Shepherd’s voice. As sheep certain things are demanded of us if we are to continue to be under the care of the Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Our obligation as good sheep consists in being docile and by always listening to the Master’s voice.

We must often ask ourselves, Do we really belong to Christ’s flock? Do we know Him? Do we listen to Him always or occasionally? As sheep, where do we turn in times of depression? St.Peter tells us in the first reading of today that for all the names in world given to men it is only in the name of Jesus that we can be saved.

We must know that not all voices are God’s voice. Some are stranger’s voice. It is a stranger’s voice telling us that it is profitable to be dishonest, to lie, to compromise, to steal, to cheat on our spouse, to fornicate, to keep back what we ought to give to God, to retaliate, to cause commotion in the society, to revenge an ill done. It is the voice of a stranger that tells us that heaven is not real, that it is better to enjoy what we are certain of than deny ourselves of what we may not have. All these are voices of a stranger who has come to steal, to kill and destroy.

It is my prayer that Jesus Christ should make us good Shepherds like Himself by being selfless in our services to our fellow human beings. And may He also grant us the grace to hear and heed His voice and follow Him till our souls find eternal repose. Amen

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