Homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter - Year B - Jn. 10:11-18


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

" I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.


" For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."





Homily:


Today's gospel plunges us back into the mortal life of the Lord. He who is risen is contemplated by us once again as he who is to die, he who must lose his life: we are led to regard him as he who is dead and risen, dead in the past and resurrected in the eternal present of God! As Christ is the model for us all, we must see this as an invitation from the Church to be, like the Lord, dead and risen: what the Church's liturgy proposes to us today is that we participate in the Passion of Christ in order to be worthy of the glory of the Resurrection!


" I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."


The Lord is the good shepherd: he watches over each one of us, he constantly listens to us, he sees the least of our actions and gestures, not as a keeper, but as a shepherd, that is to say as the one who takes care of the sheep that are entrusted to him as if they were his own. Jesus is the good shepherd who identifies with his sheep: he defends the life of his sheep as if he were defending his own life. Is Jesus not the victim who will be taken to the slaughterhouse bearing all our sins, that is to say bearing us, since our sins are the only things that are truly our own?


" He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep."


The hireling, or the mercenary, works for money. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but he prefers money to the sheep that are entrusted to him. The mercenary does not identify enough with the sheep to save their life: in fact he is very far from doing so, for he makes money his god and his divinity. The mercenary is every man who treats a means as an end, instead of ordering this means to the supreme end that is God. Far from being like the good shepherd, the mercenary believes himself to be superior to the sheep: he does not want to identify with them, for he does not love God in them, but only himself and money.


" I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."


Jesus is the good shepherd, and he knows us: he knows who we are, he knows who each one of us is. But this knowledge of the Lord is a knowledge that is entirely directed and turned toward Heaven and everlasting life. It is a knowledge that is absolutely similar to that which unites the Father and the Son in the Most Holy Trinity: " I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father." Therefore it is in love that Jesus knows us, in that same love that unites the three persons of the Divine Trinity. And Jesus confirms this by then saying: " I lay down my life for the sheep."


" I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."


This is the wish of the Lord Jesus: he wants all of us to be one in him, he wants all men to be united with each other in peace and love, just as the three persons of the Holy Trinity are one. And it is the Lord himself who will be the unity of all, for he says: " They will heed my voice", that is to say that men will hear the Word of God, the Word of Life that is Christ in person. The Word of God incarnated in Christ will be the unity of all men who believe in It: this unity will be the share of those who believe in the Word of God. For, in order to hear it, faith is absolutely necessary: only those who believe in God will hear his Word of Love, that Word that is the eternal inheritance promised to those believers who are faithful until death!


" For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."


If the Lord watches over us as a good shepherd, it is out of love that he does so. And therefore it is freely that Christ watches over us out of love. For love requires liberty. And if we all want to be united in love of God, under a single shepherd and forming a single flock, it cannot be done other than freely. The Lord does not watch over us in order to constrain us: he does so in order to seek our free response of love to the voice of his Word of life.


So, let us, we who have joined together here under the benevolent protection of the Lord, allow ourselves to be drawn by his love, and let us go to him: let us receive him worthily and with the greatest charity. May this day's communion be that of our unity with everyone! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary who, with her Son, also watches over us, guide us toward the one sheepfold of the Lord, where all will be one for eternity!



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