Sunday, 7 May 2017

HOMILY – EASTER IV 2017 -- “Good Shepherd"

“ . . now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

"Jesus is Lord." How often have we heard or said these words? Jesus is the divine Son who David foresaw at God's right hand (Acts 2:34). He is also the Messiah,  the Christos or Anointed One that God had promised to be the Shepherd of the scattered flock of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 34:11-14, 23; 37:24).

The empty tomb of the risen Jesus, our Lord and Messiah, calls us to enter in, to enter into his death and resurrection. By this tomb, we know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah. He is the Christ, the New Torah, as Pope Benedict points our in his book JESUS OF NAZARETH. He is the anointed one for all nations not merely his own nation, as Peter preaches in today's First Reading.

The Gospel calls Jesus the Good Shepherd, sent to a people who were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34; Numbers 2). Jesus, this Good Shepherd calls not only to the children of Israel, but to all those far off. He calls those lost in the Kingdom of Self, in the Oligarchy  of Materialism, in the inclusiveness of Sin, in the Dictatorship of Relativism. 

These perverse principalities claim that all “truths” are equal even when they are manifestly neither true nor equal to the truth of Christ and the Kingdom of God.  

Jesus calls whomever the Lord wishes to hear His voice. He calls as the Good Shepherd calls and leads us away from rule of the Dark Prince of the World.
The call of the Good Shepherd leads to the healing waters of Baptism, to the anointing oil of Confirmation, and to the table and overflowing cup of the Eucharist.

Again, on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, we hear Jesus’ voice calling us His own. He awakens in us the response of those who heard Peter's preaching. 

"What are we to do?" they cried.

We have been baptized into his life yet each of us goes astray like the sheep, as we hear in today's Epistle. We become subject to the thieves in our society who seek to steal, to steal hope, to steal morality and goodness, those who seek to in Jesus words: “kill and destroy;” to kill the innocents and destroy the family. We need daily to repent, to seek forgiveness of our sins, to pray for protection from the thieves of morality and to separate ourselves from this “corrupt generation” from the siren songs of materialism, of concupiscence and of immorality, and from the colourful flags they fly.

We are called to follow in the footsteps of the loving and self-sacrificing Shepherd of our souls. By Jesus’ suffering, He bore our sins in His body to free us from the power and the influence of sin. But His suffering is also an example for us. From Him we  learn patience in our afflictions, offering our struggles for the benefit of others,  for all those who have been or will be washed in the Easter waters of Baptism. We are all connected, all bound together, all part of the Body of Christ, struggling and suffering for one another as Jesus has done and calls us to do.  We hand ourselves over to the will of God for the good of others.

Jesus has gone ahead, leading us through the dark valley of evil and death. His Cross has become the narrow gate through which we must pass to reach His empty tomb and then on to the verdant pastures of abundant life.

“ . . now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

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