Good Shepherd Sunday

05-12-2019Weekly ReflectionFather Prince Raja

Sunday of Easter is celebrated as the Good Shepherd Sunday. Happy Mother's day. We think of the 'pastoral' love of God, as we also pray for vocations to priesthood; priests are the 'pastors' of the church. Each year, for the gospel reading, we hear one part of John 10. This year, being Year C, we listen to the third part of that chapter. Today, Jesus says, "I know them and they know me; and I give them eternal life." These two themes form the two parts of my reflection today.

1. "I know them and they follow me." (Jn 10:27)

Moris West used to be one of my favorite novelists. In one of his novels by name, Lazarus, he speaks of an imaginary Pope Leo XIV. As a person this Pope is a typical cold, insipid, distant cleric. His point of conversion is when he is admitted in the hospital for an open-heart surgery. Now in the hospital he is very much touched by the love of a particular female nurse. One day the nurse challenges the coldness of the pope with these daring words: … "You are the supreme shepherd, but you don't see the sheep, only a vast carpet of woolly backs stretching to the horizon" (P. 279).

Thank God, we are not just a carpet of wool for God. We are individuals. Jesus knows us individually, by face, by name… We are not just numbers for God. Isn't it very comforting!

In the short catechism we used to memorize: who made you? God made me. Why did He make you? To know him, love him and serve him… I would suggest that this latter answer should be rewritten as: Why did God make you? To know that He knows me, and to respond to His love.

In the Hebrew sense, knowing is not a mere intellectual activity. The organ for knowing for the Hebrews is the heart! In fact, it is the same knowing that is used to describe the relationship between a husband and wife. Yes, Jesus knows us with his heart. He loves us. But do we know HIM?

2. I give them Eternal Life (Jn 10:28)

The eternal life overflows from the fact that Jesus gives us his own life. On, at least, four occasions Jesus says in John 10: I lay down my life for my sheep. And he has in fact done it. He has laid down his life. And by virtue of that act we have the possibility to enjoy fullness of life – eternal life!

What is eternal life? We say: God is eternal! What is eternity?

St Augustine defines eternity as 'the continuous now'. That is to say, for God there is no past and future, but just NOW. So eternity is here and now. God is here and now. Eternal life is here is now. Are we ready to jump into it and live?

Why did God make you? To know that He knows me, to respond to His love now, and thus to have eternal life. May this be our experience today and the rest of our lives! We will have a special blessing for mother's day at the end of our Eucharistic celebration.