Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Shepherd Sunday 2013

(artist Simon Downy)

Let me begin this reflection with this request:  study the picture presented, especially the eyes of Jesus as presented by the artist's truly heartfelt sharing of his vision of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  When you feel you are able to speak with this Jesus as your friend, move forward to the reflection.

In the middle of the Resurrection season, as we move toward Pentecost Sunday, I feel we are particularly gifted by the Holy Spirit to have present for us the image and the sacred scripture readings of the Good Shepherd..  Indeed, these are sources of genuine hope.  Let the Holy Spirit stir up in your heart the awareness that Jesus is indeed the source of much hope, the love of God calling us to know this extraordinary gift of the Trinity.  This is the divine threesome whose one mission is to do what is possible to fulfill their individual intention that we should come to know fully the reality that Father, Son and Spirit deeply love.  Each of them daily pours out moments of grace bringing us closer to the Godhead, our Creator God.

Just consider three sest of words to be mentioned a little later in this reflection. Discover the one set that is the key opening your heart to God's never-ending outreach to you.  But before presenting these keys to you, let me suggest words that describe a good shepherd.  Verses 1-6 of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no eveil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
You set a table before me in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;  my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days.
(NAB text)

Then, in today's readings, read twice today's gospel, John 10:27-30.  In these words you will have noticed, hopefully, that several sets of words, very short sentences, are of significance.  They are good to know, better to  remember and best to be guideposts in your daily living.  These sentiments from Jesus will continue your effort to converse with Jesus as your friend.

"My sheep hear my voice."  In a world of so much communication and mis-communications, our friend Jesus assures us that when we accept his invitation to "Follow me!" we will be able to hear what brings us closer to our God.  We will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd above all the those distracting voices in our world.  To hear the voice of this one true friend, we must ourselves tune our souls to open ears, heart and mind to his voice, just as the sheep recognizes the one who cares for and leads them.

"I know them."  Understanding the meaning of the verb "to know" as used in holy scripture is important.  It is the word that assures intimate knowledge of another person -- like you, like me!  It is for us the assurance that Jesus is our true friend, one who loves us to death.  Again, just as a shepherd would give his life to protect his sheep.  This should bring comfort and assurance to us in the sometimes crazy world we share.  These three words tell us that he knows when we have run headlong into a stone wall.  He knows when we have sinned.  He is not unaware of deep hurts we carry in our hearts.  He knows we harbor shallowness at times.  Even though we are of the earth, his "I know them." should reaffirm for you, once and for all times, how powerful, all-encompassing is his love for you, his friend.  Let your mind bring your picture of his face and let him say to you "I know you!"

"They follow me."  Another three meaningful words that call to mind for us that we would be foolish not to follow him.  He knows the greener pastures we week in our lives.  He always leads us away from trouble.  Someone once said "Our world is always a better place when Christians follow the teachings of Jesus."  Amen!  Amen. Amen.

Yes, this Good Shepherd Sunday is a unique moment on the journey from Resurrection to Ascension and then to Pentecost.  Let you mind and heart take time to partake of this amazing grace given by our God.