4th Sunday of Easter
In this time of Easter we celebrate the joy and glory of the risen Lord Jesus. We acknowledge that he is indeed the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.
Jesus was a marvellous communicator. He used the image of the shepherd when teaching about the nature of God because he knew that those listening to him understood the work of a shepherd and that they could easily recognise what a good shepherd was. A Good shepherd ensures that his sheep are safe; vigilance is the watchword of the Good Shepherd. Jesus asks each one of us to be vigilant. Vigilant against temptations and sin, thus the challenge today is precisely the same as that facing the first century disciples of Jesus, to be ready to suffer for him.
Being followers of Jesus demands that we are willing to be inconvenienced and, when necessary, to be prepared to suffer in defending our faith. This involves struggling to perfect our fallen human nature, as we make every effort to listen to his voice, by for example putting the needs of others first, rather than being self-centred and selfish.
The reason why Jesus was able to behave so decently and honourably towards those who treated him so badly was because he was always in perfect union with God his heavenly Father who loved him and supported him, he belonged to him and he listened to his voice. He was never lost and was never stolen away from the Father.
This can be true too for each one of us, in imitating Jesus’ example, we are challenged by The Good News to imitate his behaviour, whatever the circumstances. We recognise and look to him as the Good Shepherd who never allows us to be lost.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”