Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A-2011

From Vincentian Encyclopedia
I will not reject anyone who comes to me (Jn. 6:37—NAB)

Jesus Christ reveals himself to us as the lover whose raison d’être is to seek and foster the good of the beloved. He compares himself to the good and diligent shepherd who takes his responsibility to heart.

This shepherd leads the sheep to green pastures, he protects them, he gathers them. His concern is that his sheep have life and have it abundantly. He is transparent, without duplicity, and does things in the open. They climb over elsewhere those who come to steal and slaughter and destroy, bent that they are to take advantage of others and of others’ goods, to obtain and guard what is theirs, their inordinate self-esteem, included, to promote their own good, interests, advance or agenda. The good shepherd, on the other hand, enters the sheepfold through the gate, in full view of the gatekeeper who lets him in.

The true shepherd does not need to show who is the boss [1] or to lord it over the sheep harshly and brutally (Ez. 34:4); the sheep recognizes his voice, they listen to him and follow him spontaneously. Unlike the dogma and morality detectives or police who keep watching people closely and breathe threats of accusations and expulsion against those who dissent [2], Jesus seeks the expelled and welcomes the accused and the marginalized (Lk. 6:7; Jn. 8:1-11; 9:35; Gal. 2:4). Hence, he is also the gate for the sheep that they may be saved.

It is through Jesus that one comes in and goes out. Jesus welcomes the defenseless and grants fullness of life to those deemed ignorant by the educated who, because of their training, cannot but be analytical, questioning and argumentative, and who find it hard to submit to orders, endure the miseries of life and bear with those who, because of their lively and simple faith and their practice of the true religion, do not threaten, when they suffer, but show patience instead [3]. And those who enter through Jesus not seeing will see, while those who see but do not enter through Jesus will become blind (Jn. 9:39).

Said St. Vincent de Paul, “As the shepherds are, so are the people” [4]. It is to be supposed, therefore, that we, who claim to be Jesus’ followers, that is, the sheep of the good and welcoming shepherd par excellence, are like him in being, doing and dealing. He gives us food and drink, sacrificing his life for us (Jn. 10:11, 14; cf. Is. 40:11). If we are not like him, if we are not cut to the heart as we hear his words and see the example set by him, if we make a lie of the holy Eucharist, could it be because we have let ourselves be deceived by thieves and robbers?


NOTES:

[1] P. Coste XI, 346.
[2] Cf. “Temple police get their man,” http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/temple-police-get-their-man/story-e6frg6nf-1226051428753 at (accessed May 12, 2011).
[3] P. Coste XI, 201.
[4] Ibid. XII, 14.