ON THIS FOURTH SUNDAY IN THE SEASON OF EASTER which is also referred to as GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY because of today’s Gospel, I am always reminded of Psalm 23:1-6:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
for years to come.
Folks, the words of this Psalm are a beautiful way to live – a way that leads to life, peace and true happiness. Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that He came so that all may live with this life – the life of peace and happiness described in Psalm 23, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). As we listen to these words of Jesus in today’s Gospel they take on added meaning because we are in the Easter season. We have celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus had to die to Himself to live His new life. Jesus has shown us how to live life to the fullest, thus we must die to ourselves in order to rise to new life. Our secularized world thinks it has the answers to our needs, but what it offers only leads us into deeper despair. As Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
We could apply these words of Jesus in today’s Gospel to the false notions of happiness offered to us by the world today. Only dying to ourselves as we follow Jesus will lead us to the happiness we all seek. Jesus teaches us that the way to happiness lies not in filling up each of our wants and needs and desires. The way to happiness lies in a very different choice of life; the way to happiness may be found in mirroring the life of Jesus in our own lives. Saint John Paul II encouraged people many times to find life to the fullest by following Jesus as he said numerous times: “Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ…” In Palestine the shepherd brought the sheep into the sheepfold every night. It was a circular stone wall with an opening or door where the sheep entered. Once the sheep were inside for the night the shepherd slept in that opening or door all night. The sheep could not get out without stepping over the shepherd’s body which meant they would not get out at all during the night. Jesus is the gate, anyone who enters through him will be safe, and will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. Others steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ~ Here’s wishing all of our moms – and all of our spiritual moms – a Happy Mother’s Day. Today we honor them, we thank them, and we pray for them:
Dear Lord, today I turn to you to give you thanks for my mother. With your own gift of life, she bore me in her womb and gave me life. She tenderly, patiently cared for me and taught me to walk and talk. She read to me and made me laugh. No one delighted in my successes more; no one could comfort me better in my failures. I am so grateful for how she mothered me and mentored me, and even disciplined me. Please bless her, Lord, and comfort her. Most of all, Lord, on this Mother’s Day, give my mother the graces she most needs and desires today. I ask you this, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, forever and ever. Amen.
-Fr. Mike Lumpe