FOURTH SUNDAY IN EASTER B
BRAVE, BUT LOVING FIRST!
Jn 10: 11-18
As we journey through the spirit of Easter, we grow in familiarity, knowledge and intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday, we learn that he is the Victorious One. On the second Sunday of Easter, we meet him as the Merciful One. The third Sunday introduces him to us as the Teacher who enlightens minds and opens hearts. Today, we remember that Jesus the Lord is our Good Shepherd.
We appreciate a shepherd for his devotion to duty. He bravely defends the flock from attacks and injuries. The hired hand, says the Lord, scampers into safety securing himself first. But the good shepherd, confronts the wolf. At times, it was not the wolf but thieves who try to steal the sheep. In that case, the shepherd risks not only injury, but his life for the sheep. The shepherd needs to be courageous, needs to be brave. But Jesus is not known as the Brave Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd not only because he was brave but because above all, he was loving and caring towards his flock, each and every one of us.
For this we need to return to the event of the Cross. Why did Jesus die there? Some people say it was the result of an obligation or a bargain. The Lord died on the cross to pay for the sins we committed against God; the Father sees the blood shed by his Son, and forgives humanity its sins. Isn’t this a very human way of looking at things? Even in a human way, it seems unacceptable for a father to demand his son’s life as a payment of a debt.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: I lay down my life… I lay it down on my own… He suffered and died because he that was the expression of his love for us his brothers and sisters. No one forced him, not the Father, not any debt. He simply loved and made the ultimate sacrifice for that love. It was this offering of love the Father saw, accepted and valued so that he forgave the sins of all his wayward children. It seemed Jesus did not pay a debt to the Father; it was the Father who paid a debt to his Son for his great act of love.
In these days, we live in fear, impatience, restlessness, anger, and suffering. We need to remember the love of the Good Shepherd and ask that we experience this love in our hearts. We also need to imitate the Good Shepherd by spreading love, not anxiety and fear, wherever we live and work. Let us contribute to the spread and expansion of love, as Jesus did, so that we can support and encourage one another through this time of crisis. Amen.