Homily (Reflection) for Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday) (C) (12th May, 2019) on the Gospel
Acts 13:14.43-52;Ps 99:1-3.5. (R.v. 3);
Topic: Christ and His flock.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. We celebrate Christ as the Good Shepherd. The flock of Christ is the one He died for, cf. Jn 10:15. And we know that He died for us, Rom 5:8; 1Cor 15:3; 1Thess 5:10. He came that we may have life, and have it abundantly, cf. Jn 10:10. In the Old Testament, the Psalmist warns, “Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Ps 100:3; cf. Ps 74:1). And God also spoke through the prophet Ezekiel, “And you are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, says the Lord GOD” (Ezek 34:31; cf. Jer 23:1).
Today’s gospel forms part of Jesus’ response to the Jews who came to Him and asked: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (Jn 10:24). And in today’s gospel Jesus said to them: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”
It might be difficult to see anyone who will admit that he/she is not Christ’s sheep. In Christ’s response to the Jews we see listening to His voice and following Him as distinguishing characteristics of Christ’s sheep. Based on these, we ask: ‘How many listen to Christ’s voice toady?’ Again, ‘Do we really follow Christ?’
A string ensemble was rehearsing for their concert at a downtown church. The evening’s programme included a wonderful piece for the oboe. The oboist was exceptionally talented, but for some reason, the music sounded terrible.
The leader of the ensemble insisted that the oboe was out of tune, so the oboist adjusted the reed of her instrument to bring it in tune with the other instruments. But the music continued to sound distorted and out of key. The other musicians were becoming increasingly critical and impatient. After several attempts, the leader proposed that the oboe part be dropped from the piece.
An elderly gentleman was sitting in the church during the ensemble’s rehearsal. He quietly went to the leader during a break in their practice and said, “Please forgive my intruding, but don’t orchestras tune their instruments to the oboe?” The members of the ensemble were dumbfounded. They had overlooked a basic performance principle: an oboe sounds the proper pitch – it was the other instruments, tuned to one another, that were out of tune. When the other musicians tuned their instruments to the oboe, the music began to sound like music again.
It never worked for the ensemble because other instruments are to be tuned to the oboe. Similarly, we are to listen to Christ and to follow Him and not the reverse. And until we do our part, the harmony that ought to exist between Christ, the good Shepherd and His sheep will continue to elude us. A sheep can never be the shepherd of its shepherd, cf. Matt 10:24.
Again, a shepherd in Scotland when asked if his sheep would follow the voice of a stranger replied: “Yes, when they are sick; but never when they are well. A sick sheep will follow anybody.” In the same way, Christ’s sheep must follow the voice of Christ the good Shepherd. Irrespective of how others appear and/or speak, they come only to steal and kill and destroy, cf. Jn 10:10a.
Bible Reading: Jn 15:1-17; Eph 1:17-23; Col 1:15-23.
Thought for today: Christ is the head of the Church.
Let us pray: Christ the good Shepherd, assist us to listen to you and to follow you alone – Amen.
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