Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Lord is My Shepherd - Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reflections on the Readings
Fourth Sunday of Easter - May 15, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins

The Lord is My Shepherd

"...The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out" - Jesus

Shepherds first learned that God had come to shepherd his people. Shepherding is a demanding and difficult job. Sheep do not always cooperate. You might say they have a mind of their own. They're stubborn and prone to stray. In defiance, a sheep with a full coat of wool will run straight into the water. Without the shepherd a water logged sheep will die.

Do the sheep I've described remind you of anyone? I don't always cooperate with the Shepherd. Sometimes I have a mind of my own. Stubborn? How did you guess? And then wrestling against his will, I begin to sink! But for his wounds, I would still be held captive by my sin. Except for his sacrifice for me, I would remain astray like a sheep. Because of his great love for me, I have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of my soul.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, leads and guards his people, the sheep of his pasture. He knows my name. He knows your name. Not only that, but his voice is familiar and resonates with the sheep that he leads. That suggests relationship and community. It is a sign of love and friendship. There is warmth and kindness and safety in all that Jesus is to his people.

God, who is not willing that any should perish, gave his only begotten Son for our salvation. There is more. Jesus died for the life of the world, but he gave his life for you. The sneering and murmuring Pharisees said, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." Jesus responded, "If you have a hundred sheep and lose one, just one, won't that shepherd go and seek for that lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it won't he pick it up and carry it on his shoulders and restore it safely to the fold?" That closeness and personal care for each member of his flock comes through each of the readings today. The promise of forgiveness of sin and new life is for you and your children and to the many more the Lord is calling.

Our life in Christ is not just a list of do's and don'ts. St. Therese of Lisieux spent her life loving Jesus and making him loved. She captured the meaning of life and love and the greatness of each soul. Going to Church is more than an obligation. The prayers and the creeds are more than words on a page. In the sacrifice of the Mass our soul meets its maker. Together with the gifts of bread and wine we bring the gift of ourselves and we ask God to also bless us and make us holy.

Life is more than stuff and things and appointments. We need the intimate and the authenticate connection of Christ and his Church. Our lives are swimming in technology and drowning in entertainment. We need a better grasp of what it means to be 'still' and to 'wait' on the Lord. Sheep can get restless and confused at the voices of strangers. So we need to know more deeply the reality of our faith and listen more carefully to that familiar voice of the Shepherd. It is he who knows the true worth of our soul. He proves his love for us by preparing a Table for us. We hear again his loving voice, "I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly." Amen.

No comments: