Good Shepherd Sunday Breakfast with the Word
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter. Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday or Vocations Sunday. There are several types of vocations in life. The focus today is on the priesthood and religious life.
Good Shepherd Sunday is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It seeks to remind us of our responsibility to foster vocations to the priestly and religious life. Today also reminds us of our different responsibilities of caring, converting and touching souls wherever we are and in whatever we do.
In the gospel today, Jesus, first of all, reminds us that He is the good shepherd and in varied ways reminded us of what are the qualities of a good shepherd.
The celebration of today then informs us to be like Jesus, guiding the flock handed to us with care and compassion and never to lord it over ourselves.
1 Peter 5:2-3 details it when it says “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is among you, watching over them not out of compulsion, but because it is God’s will; not out of greed, but out of eagerness; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Like Jesus, we have to bring the light wherever we are and not darkness, leading people to God through the type of life we live.
Duties of A Shepherd From the Bible.
1.In the scriptures, the word “Shepherd” is used figuratively to represent the relationship between rulers and their subjects and of God to his people ( Psalms 23:1; 80:1; Isaiah 40:11 John 10:11 John 10:14; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4 ).
First of all, as a Shepherd, there should be this relationship that must exist between the leader and those he leads.
2. .In the Old Testament, Jacob as a shepherd complains about how he faces the bad weather of the day while pasturing the flock of Laban.
So, the Shepherd is always exposed to the extremes of heat and cold, ( Genesis 31:40 ). The life of the shepherd is not without dedication and suffering.
This is the reason we have to pray for them and the reason the Shepherd has to understand the role God gives to Him.
3. In the Old Testament, His food frequently consists of the precarious supplies afforded by nature, such as the fruit of the “sycamore” or Egyptian fig, ( Amos 7:14 ).
He may not even have time to feed well. His eyes are always on the flock. The function of the shepherd is not an easy role. The shepherd shows extreme came for His sheep.
As a shepherd, Jacob complains to His master Laban how he bore the loss of animals torn by wild beasts.
The shepherd faces predators that may come in a while to steal His sheep. He has to stand up and defend them from this attack. ( Genesis 31:39 ).
Therefore, the life of the Shepherd is not without hatred, and attacks from those who do not love Him. Sometimes the devil uses them to steal his sheep.
This is why He needs to be alert, prayerful, humble and wise.
5. The life of a shepherd is sometimes filled with hardship, just to protect the flock. He is deeply concerned about their welfare more than His. This is atypical of what we see today.
The truth is that, if those who under us is not giving us concern, if the welfare of those we lead are not giving us sleepless nights, thinking on how to make things better, then know that we are yet very far from being the true model.
In Ezekiel 34:11, 15-16, God rebukes the shepherds of Israel, who feed themselves rather than their flocks. God stops their exploitation and took on the role of shepherd.
Jesus As the Good Shepherd.
Today, Jesus declares himself as the Good Shepherd, He says: ‘I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11).
1.Jesus is not just a shepherd but the Good One, the one who so much loves His sheep, the one who can sacrifice His life for their good.
He says in the gospel “I lay down my life for my sheep. He is not like the hired man who abandons his sheep and runs away when he sees a wolf coming.
2. In essence, Jesus is willing to sacrifice His life for the love He has for His sheep.
In the first reading, Peter tells the rulers and elders after the healing of the man at the beautiful gate, that the miracle happened because of the love of Jesus.
Everything happens through Him. Therefore, Jesus is willing to do anything for those who stay under His care. These are the people who obey Him and follow His direction. In the gospel, He says His sheep are those who listen to His voice.
3. The image of the Good Shepherd perfectly captures the mission of Jesus. He offers his life as nourishment for his sheep.
Jesus is also ready to protect and defend his sheep from all possible harm at all cost, even to the point of risking his own life.
He gives both protection and nourishment for the sheep under his care. To lay down your life means to sacrifice your life, entirely for the good of someone.
To do this is a sign of true and great love. (John 15:13).
The True Flock
1.Repeatedly in this chapter, Jesus says that His sheep listens to His voice and they know Him. His love is not discriminatory, but we can decide to follow or not.
This is the reason John makes it categorical that we are God’s children but the problem is the refusal to acknowledge that we do.
The problem is the decision we have made not to come close to God. So, to be a member of this flock comes from our decision. We need to come close to our Shepherd, listen to Him and know Him deeply.
2. Secondly, Jesus knows His Own, He knows those who loves and worships Him in spirit and truth.
They are those who obey the voice of the Father at the Mountain of Transfiguration (Mathew 17:1-3 and Luke 9:28-36) when He says “This is my beloved Son, Listen To Him”
The flock not only loves Jesus as the Father describes but listens to Him. In that chapter, Jesus says the sheep hears his voice. (John 10:3).
Jesus Protects and Searches for His Own.
His own is always protected under His mighty shield, this is what David truly experienced When He says in Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”.
David exhibited a very powerful trust in God. This is what is expected of us.
2.Jesus came searching For His flock both saints and sinners. His parable of the Lost Sheep which is about a shepherd who leaves his flock of ninety-nine sheep to find the one which is lost in Luke 15:3–7 underscores the mission of Jesus. He does not want us to be lost.
Jesus warns us of following the thieves and robbers who have come only to destroy. He says “come to me all you who are overburdened, burdened by the weight of sin, by problems and earthly nightmares, I am ready to forgive and make you well again”. (Matthew 11:28).
Do you know how much Jesus loves you? If Jesus did not cherish you, He will not sacrifice His life just for your sake.
We are the People who have bluntly rejected Jesus and lost faith in Him and see Him as an imaginary figure. For many, Jesus is not real. Despite this, His love for us is deep.
We belong To Jesus.
1.In the gospel, Jesus says that He knows His sheep by name. He knows everything about us. In essence, Jesus understands everything about us.
He calls you by your name. Therefore, He understands everything that happens to you more than you do.
Jesus is always there for those who listen to His voice and does not want a single of His flock to be lost. In the second reading, John speaks categorically that we are God’s children and that is what we are and nothing more.
The problem is that we do not want to acknowledge God in whatever we do. We prefer to live on our own and do things on our own. This is where we make serious mistakes.
2. In the gospel, Jesus says He is not like the hired man who has no concern for His sheep. Imagine the type of love Jesus develops for anyone who loves and obeys Him.
He makes us His own, a personal inheritance, we become part of Him, in body and soul.
When He says I know my sheep, it calls for deep reflection of what we mean to Jesus. “His own” reflects that there is a personal relationship between the Shepherd and the sheep.
There is a bond that exists between Jesus and those who love and obey Him.
He calls his sheep by name” He knows their names one by one. He will identify us wherever we are, He will identify us even in the face of oppositions and afflictions, and leads us out.
3. In the Jewish culture, people consider a person’s name to be more than a simple label to identify that person. They believed that something of the person’s identity was tied up in the name.
The point of this verse is that the good shepherd knows the sheep with the same kind of intimacy that we have with friends and neighbours.
It is noteworthy that Mary Magdalene recognizes the risen Christ only when he calls her by name (John 20:16).
Those Who Count Themselves Out.
Jesus does not count anyone out of His sheepfold. We count ourselves out.
In verse 5 of John chapter 10, Jesus categorically states that His sheep will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John10:5).
The sheep know their shepherd’s voice and follow him willingly, but will not follow a stranger whose voice they do not recognize.
They have learned to trust their shepherd, even when problems and afflictions hit them always in the face.
They keep their trust despite any persecution and distress, they put all their faith in Him, despite any temptation.
We count ourselves out, when we lack faith in Him and lack deeper trust in His care, and do not believe in Him (John 10:27).
What We shall do.
1. The duties of a shepherd in the time of Jesus is an onerous task. The shepherd makes sure that none of His sheep is starved.
Early in the morning, He is already out there with the flock to feed them, and he takes them to greener pastures.
He watches them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, he will seek diligently till he found and brought it back.
In those lands, sheep require to be supplied regularly with water, and the shepherd for this purpose has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness.
At night he will bring the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed the door to assure himself that none was missing.
Often he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief ( 1 Samuel 17:34 ).
This is what Jesus does for us. We may not see it, only He knows how many times, some circumstances and people would harm us but He was there to be our shield.
2. In essence, Jesus also teaches us what we shall do to others handed to our care. To be a leader whether political, religious, civil, in the family, etc demand extreme care, love, dedication and passion.
We are not there to intimidate. You are not the head of an office to show people that you have arrived. You are there to care for their souls and well being.
If every political leader in the country can understand it this way, things would be better.
3.To be a Shepherd is not also only the function of those on top. Once we are alive, there are souls that come to you.
There are friends and people who need your help. tend them with care and do not lead them astray. Do not be a hired man who leads people into suffering, be the Good Shepherd who brings people out of suffering and depression.
1.Like The Good Shepherd we have to protect the lives and welfare of those handed into our care. We are not there to be served but to serve them in the spirit of Christ.
2.Like The Good Shepherd, we have to take our duties as what God has given to us, not for our gain, nor using such positions to feed and prosper out of their difficulties but because of who we are as representatives of Christ.
Here, 1 Peter 5:2 says “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.
3. Like the Good Shepherd, let us feed the souls handed into our care pastorally, spiritually, and physically. The soul needs food likewise the body, make sure that your flock is not starved of any. If you are a parent, you are the shepherd to your children.
If you are in charge of any group, position, family, parish, office, you are the shepherd there. Also, if you are at the helm of any position by virtues of what you are and what you do, many souls are relying on your knowledge and expertise, do not destroy them but feed them and lead them perfectly.
4. Never use your position to intimidate anyone nor force anyone to do anything not out of his or her will, it is the same Jesus you do. Jesus says whatsoever you do unto the least of my brothers that you do unto me (Mathew 25;40).
5. Like the Good Shepherd, see anyone as equal, just like Jesus does. He does not discriminate.
Do not create disunity in your family, in your places of work, because you think one person is giving you what you want or giving you money.
Be with the rich and the poor, encourage those trying, and convert those going astray. Do not abandon your friend because of hardship, you do not know what tomorrow can bring.
6. Like the Good Shepherd, be with your sheep in good times and in bad times. Do not become a friend, a father, mother, director etc only when things are moving well.
Good friends are known in the darkest times. Help the poor, the sick and the dejected.
7. Like the Good Shepherd lays His life for the good of all, learn to sacrifice even a little of your time, advice, wisdom, resources to save someone around you who needs it.
Do not use what God has given you as a source of intimidation, pride, etc but as a source of blessing to many.
8. Finally Like the Good Shepherd let us live our lives converting and touching souls. This is our call. this our vocation.
May God Bless you dearest and give us the grace to continually follow Him. Happy Sunday.
You may read