Jesus is a Shepherd who cares and protects; we fear no evil even when we walk through dark valleys.
Jesus and the one who has sent him to be Shepherd of the whole flock are one. The Shepherd’s success depends on this union.
The intimacy between the Father and Jesus is the basis of the intimacy between Jesus and his followers: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Such sheep sense the Shepherd’s will. By doing the Teacher’s will and working with him in his mission, the disciples get nourished. They become like the Teacher who assures them:
My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.
So attuned to their Teacher, the disciples understand what he means when he calls their attention to “the fields ripe for the harvest.” That is why those rejected at Antioch in Pisidia come to understand that the Lord is sending them to the Gentiles.
Those who have the mind of Christ are not bogged down in their own limited ideas and opinions, to use a phrase found in AL 139. They are open to another mission field, fully aware that they have to go and make disciples of every nation, race and tongue.
They are inventive also, which is evident in St. Vincent de Paul’s works and words. The saint does not only remind missionaries of their vocation to go all over the world (SV.FR XII:262). He also shows his creativity as he thinks of other doors opening to him as some close because of his age (SV.FR XI:40).
He challenges us besides to be open to what is new. Answering his own question—“But who are going to turn us away from the good works we have begun?”—St Vincent says:
It will be the pampered ones, … people with a narrow outlook who confine their views and plans to a fixed circumference within which they shut themselves up as in one spot; they are unwilling to leave it, and if they are shown something outside it, and draw near to look at it, they withdraw right away to their center, like snails into their shells. (SV.FR XII:92-93)
No rejection, no limitation, stops those formed by the chief Shepherd. They boldly protest their rejection and commend themselves in weakness to the one who is greater than all.
Even when it seems to them that all their efforts are about to go to waste, true disciples remain certain that they will receive eternal life from the one who gave his body up and shed his blood, that they will never perish, that no one will take them out of their Shepherd’s hand.
Eternal Shepherd, keep us safe from ravenous wolves and unreliable hirelings.
April 17, 2016
4th Sunday of Easter (C)
Acts 13, 14. 43-52; Rev 7, 9 14b-17; Jn 10, 27-30