THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
(A biblical reflection on THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (Year A], 3 May 2020)
Gospel Reading: John 10:1-10
First Reading: Acts 2:14a,36-41; Psalms: Psalm 23:1-6; Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:20b-25
The Scripture Text
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they flee from him, for they do not know the voice of the strangers.” This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what He was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door, if any one enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:1-10 RSV)
Today’s Gospel gives us an image of Jesus as someone who hopes that people will come to recognize His voice as the one that does address who they are and where they are, one that leads them without disguise and without pretense. The first letter of Peter makes the same point when it speaks of Jesus: “He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips” (! Peter 2:22 RSV).
Clearly, many people do not want to hear the truth from Jesus; but if a price is demanded for ignoring His truth, Jesus does not exact it. “When He was reviled, He did not revile in return when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus places everything in the hands of His Father. In spite of the treatment He receives, He always refuses to give back as He has received, He always refuses to give back as He has received. That doesn’t make Him into superman, it speaks to us of His way of being human.
To be a human being does not mean the same as being human. In virtue of our birth we are all human beings; but we have to learn what if means to be truly human in our world. Jesus teaches us that. He takes our inhumanity on His back and carries it to the cross. His way of the cross is His most authentic voice: it speaks of the shepherd willing to die for his sheep He dies for what He believes in. He is His word.
As Christians we are all called to be fully human like Jesus. That is our vocation. We believe in the words of the Gospel that Jesus came so that we could “have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). To share in His way of being human. To speak our truth quietly and insistently, even when the opposition is ranged impressively against us. To have a way that meets people’s meanness with the generosity of life in abundance. To have a heart that is capable of imaginative sympathy – of seeing the real muddle and conflict in people’s lives. To have a mind that is not a computer record of past hurts, but is freed for other projects because it makes judgment the Father’s business.
Jesus’ way of being human keeps us all on our toes. Sometimes we do appreciate that His way is not strange to our condition; it is the human condition at its finest. Other times when we look at ourselves we feel helpless to move with that generosity of spirit. But the voice of Jesus forever calls us. It calls to a place deep within us, the place that recognizes the voice of the one who love us with an everlasting love. And when we hear that voice speak, we know it belongs to no stranger.
Prayer: 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 (Psalm 23 NAB). Amen.
Jakarta, 1 May 2020
A Christian Pilgrim