By Father Patrick Longalong
This weekend, we are asked to focus on the mission that Jesus is entrusting to his disciples.
As we enter into the fourth week of the Easter season, we should notice by now that God’s work hasn’t stopped on resurrection day.
We have been journeying with Jesus’ disciples these past few Sundays in their process to understand the meaning and implication of their encounter with the risen Lord. Last weekend, we have just heard the story of the miraculous catch of fish which should bring us back to the time when Jesus first invited his disciples to follow him.
We finished that reading with Jesus asking Peter to feed and tend to his sheep: an explicit conversation of the new role Peter is going to take upon himself; as a shepherd.
Today and every 4th Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It is one of the most comforting and memorable images of God that is portrayed in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
In the middle of the Easter season we are reminded of this aspect of God and the mission he has given to his disciples of shepherding the Church. We often hear the words of Psalm 23 and probably say it as a prayer when we feel lost or afraid, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” In another verse mentioned in chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ own words, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (verse 11).
As Catholics, we were taught and believe that God is always going to be there no matter what.
But we know that feeling God’s presence comes and goes. It is usually tied to our day-to-day experiences. When everything is well, we feel God’s closeness more. It is hard to see God’s light when we feel hurt, rejected, unloved, or lost.
I have some friends who stray further away from God when they think they have made a grave mistake in their lifee, maybe out of shame or a feeling of unworthiness. It is during these times when we should remind ourselves that God will always search for us and will not stop until we are found.
A beautiful song by a Christian band, Casting Crowns, titled “Even When You’re Running” captures the Good Shepherd’s love and care for us.
His love is inescapable
His presence is unshakable
Right now you don’t believe it’s true
A better day is coming
And you don’t need another place to hide
He’ll find you in your darkest night
His love is holding on to you
Even when you’re running.
Our story continues after Jesus finally finds us and wipes away every tear from our eyes.
He invites us to help Him find others who are in the same situation we were. Our own experience of God’s mercy and love is our own testimony that should inspire others to see God’s face. We become shepherds to others.
This weekend let us offer prayers for all our priests who have dedicated their lives to carrying on the mission that Christ has begun in our world.
We pray that they manifest the love, care and vigilance of the Good Shepherd. Let us also pray that more men will respond to God’s call to service in being a priest.
May they become disciples “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”
Readings for Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 13:14, 43-52
Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village, and coordinator of the Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.