By Father Patrick Longalong
Today, we hear once again the identity of Jesus as a shepherd. A shepherd that spends most of his time tending and ensuring the well-being of his flock. His primary responsibilities are to protect, nourish, and lead them where they need to go. It is also important to keep in mind that since he spends so much time with his sheep, he also recognizes the uniqueness of each. He knows which one is strong and which one needs a little more help to catch up to the rest. He knows which one follows his directions quickly and which ones tend to be stubborn.
Yet, despite all these different inclinations among his sheep, he is still committed to caring for each and every one of them. As we continue to reflect on each of the readings for Mass this weekend, there is a prevalent theme of shepherding, although not as explicit as we read in the Gospel. In 1 Peter 2:20-25, we are made aware that
Christ has made himself an example through his suffering so that we too may understand the cost of discipleship and return to “the shepherd and the guardian of your souls.” In Acts 2, Peter exhorts those in Jerusalem: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”
After Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, the world became different. His disciples’ role will change one more time. Another process of transformation begins. We have always been taught that the Lenten season has 40 days because it is a period of preparation through the experience of testing, trial, or probation. In a sense, we are being prepared to b able to receive something good and even greater. Within the Easter season, there is also that period of preparation that ends at the Ascension of our Lord. Jesus was preparing His disciples to be Shepherds. Jesus who humbled himself to be a lamb like one of us showed them that it is possible to also become a Good Shepherd.
This is the purpose of why we are encouraged to reflect on the passage we hear in the second reading from St. Peter’s letter. We are not just followers of Jesus but destined to be Good Shepherds like Him. And when the moment comes, we should be willing to follow the example of sacrifice that Christ exemplified for us. This sense of self-giving love will
demonstrate to the world those who belong to the Lord. Jesus showed what that love looked like in washing the feet of his disciples. He goes further to show what that love looks like through his self-giving death on the cross.
What does this love look like in our life?
I can think of a few ways during this difficult time of the pandemic. Maybe we can increase in patience despite the challenging situations we may be experiencing. Becoming a source of hope and encouragement to a family member or a friend even if we ourselves feel lost with our current situation. Pray for someone even if our own faith is being challenged by what is going on around us.
At the end of today’s Gospel Jesus says: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Jesus is the source of our life. May we too be able to give life to others in their darkest moment as Jesus has
Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2: 14a, 36–41
Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6
1 Peter 2: 20b-25
John 10: 1-10
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village, and coordinator of the Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.