This weekend we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Easter which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is a lovely thought because it is a well known fact that the shepherd never leaves his sheep outside the sheepfold. If any are outside the sheepfold the shepherd will seek the lost sheep at all costs until they are found. In the same way for us Jesus will seek us out and help us to find our way back into the sheepfold of the faith. In the Old Testament, the shepherd was a metaphor for the leaders of the people of God. Most often those leaders failed in their responsibilities and many were corrupt. God excoriates the incompetent and sinful leaders who were appointed to shepherd the people which they did not do. With the failures of the leaders of the people, God decided to take on the shepherding role. “For thus says the Lord: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. (Ezekiel 34:11). In today’s gospel Jesus likens Israel’s corrupt shepherds to the “hired man” who deserts the sheep when danger approaches, leaving them in peril. The hired shepherd may leave the sheep behind but Jesus the Good shepherd the Son of the Father does not leave his sheep.
One of the most comforting of the Psalms which is also a hymn begins with the line: “The Lord is my shepherd.” It ends with this line: “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”Goodness and mercy, in the person of Jesus the good Shepherd are with us even now. The Gospel of the Good Shepherd teaches us how to embrace the gift of redemption by hearing and recognizing the voice of the Good Shepherd. There are numerous voices calling us to believe and to practice things that might seem nice, but those voices are not of or from the Lord. We need to tune our ears and hearts into recognizing the voice of truth that comes from Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We are his people the sheep of his flock and that means that we are people who are able to recognize the voice of the Lord and to faithfully follow him. This Sunday we also pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We pray for all those young and not so young who have a vocation to the priesthood, Permanent diaconate or the religious life. We pray that in their lives they may be like Christ the Good shepherd who came to give up his life as a ransom for Many bringing his people into the sheepfold of God and faith in him.