April 25, 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter

Welcome Father Cyril Today’s Readings: Acts 4:8-12 | 1 Jn 3:1-2 | Jn 10:11-18

###Call and Response

For many, if not all of us who live in tower blocks or housing estates, the chances of meeting a shepherd or seeing a flock of sheep are very rare! The language and image that Jesus offers us today in the gospel can seem a bit strange to us and may even be outside our experience altogether. Jesus uses the image of the shepherd caring for sheep to describe himself and his relationship with us. At the time of Jesus, shepherds were a part of daily life. When Jesus used the image of the shepherd, the people who listened to him would have understood immediately what he was talking about. So what does it mean and say to us today?

Perhaps to our modern eyes all sheep look the same. However this is not true; a shepherd can distinguish from another and knows each of them individually. When a shepherd calls a sheep, the sheep recognises the voice and responds. The single sheep and the whole flock know, trust and follow the shepherd. Shepherds do everything they can to lead, guide and protect their flock. The sheep go wherever the shepherd leads them. The shepherd will never lead them astray or into any danger. This is a true today as it was at the time of Jesus.

But we are not sheep; but the language and image of Jesus the shepherd can help us to appreciate the relationship he offers each of us. We are known and loved personally and intimately by Jesus; we are not all the same to him. In the Prophet Isaiah we read these powerful and profound words; ‘I call you by your name, you are mine, do not be afraid. You are precious to me and I love you.’ (42.1,) These are the words that God speaks directly to each of us every day of our lives. If a shepherd cares for sheep with such love and attention, how much more does Jesus love and care for you and I?

Jesus calls us by our name out of love; he does not and cannot force us to listen or make us follow him. He invites us to follow him freely; the choice whether or not we accept this invitation is entirely ours. We may take our time in answering this call, but Jesus will wait and will never stop calling us by our name.

Today is called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday.’ We are asked to pray for those men and women who feel they are called to live their lives as priests, brothers or sisters. Each of us is called to follow Jesus in whatever way that we can. We each have our own unique and sacred vocation which comes directly and personally from God. As St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians; ‘I ask you to live a life worthy of the vocation to which you have been called.’ (4.1) God calls each of us by our name; each of us is called to live our different way of life; our vocation as members of The Body of Christ, trying our best to love and serve each other.

As we continue our journey through this sacred season of Easter, may each of us realise how intimately Jesus loves us as he continually calls us by our name each and every day.

How am I being called by God to actively live my own vocation these days?

Source of reflection: Br Michael Moore OMI, https://oblates.ie/pray-with-us/weekly-reflections/ Source of image: Söderåkra church: “The Good Shepherd” (1947) by Gunnar Torhamn / photo by B. Fransson, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S%C3%B6der%C3%A5kra_kyrka04.JPG