This Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because the Gospel is taken from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, in which Jesus uses the image of the shepherd to refer to himself. For people of Jesus’ time the image of a shepherd would have been familiar, both as a part of their everyday experience of seeing shepherds and from the long history of shepherding images in Jewish Scripture.
I’d like to focus this morning on one of two particular aspects of the Good Shepherd that come to mind: That the sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. The sheep come to trust the shepherd. He knows each of his sheep and cares for each of them, and so when He calls, his sheep respond.
In a similar way, the Christian’s soul wants to respond to Christ. But for this to happen, each one of us has to have a relationship with Our Lord. The better is our relationship, the greater our trust for the Shepherd. To the degree we nurture our interior life through prayer, spiritual reading and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Confession and the Most Holy Eucharist, we will better come to realize just how much He knows us and cares for each of us, and to that same degree we will feel in everyday life the effects our real relationship with the Good Shepherd produce.
For example, because of our intimate relationship with Jesus, we not only hear the Good Shepherd’s voice, but we easily make the effort to keep in step with Him, actually right next to Him. Should something happen all of a sudden, like we slip and fall into an unseen hole in the field, not only is it easier for us not to be anxious, because of our fixed gaze into Jesus’ eyes, but He immediately can reach down and lift us out of the hole, and place us back safely by His side.
May our dear Lord continue to help us deepen our relationship with Him during this time of trial through this virus and its repercussions.
Our dear Lord, your ways are beyond us. Your timing is a mystery to us. But we know that with our minds and hearts open through prayer, You will be able to give us every grace we need, right when we need it most. Lord, increase our faith! Amen.