Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4: 8-12
I John 3:1-2
John 10: 11-18
There were a husband and wife who had coffee together every morning. The husband would prepare the coffee, he would pull his chair up, so he could look at his wife, and they would talk. Their conversation would cover many topics, and it was always good, it was their way of beginning the day. There is nothing unusual about making coffee, pulling up a chair and talking to your loved one. What makes this unusual is the wife of 64 years has been gone for over two years, and this loving husband has continued the ritual of making the coffee, pulling up a chair, and talking to his wife who is buried in our cemetery. It does not matter if it is raining, snowing, blowing, or sunshine, this man continues this morning ritual. This act of love is what being a “good shepherd” is about.
In our Gospel, Jesus gives us three things to do so all of us will be a “Good Shepherd.” The first thing Jesus says is, “I am the good shepherd, and I lay down my life for my sheep.” Jesus repeats this four more times because he means it. It is not to be taken lightly, and it is not for the faint of heart. The good shepherd never gives up on the sheep and is present to the sheep through all the difficult times of life.
Secondly, Jesus says, “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.” Membership into the flock of Jesus is based solely on hearing the voice of the shepherd. In ancient times when possible shepherds would come together in the evening and put their sheep into a sheep gate. The sheep gate would be a wall that would be built out of stone in a circle to keep all the sheep safe from predators or thieves. In the morning the shepherds would call their sheep, and they would rejoin their shepherd.
The last thing Jesus tells us is this relationship that the shepherd has with his sheep, and the sheep have with their shepherd is all because there are others who will see that and want to be part of that flock.
The challenge for all of us is how we can be a better good shepherd to the sheep that God has given us? All you who are married. Will you lay your life down for your spouse, by listening to each other more intently? May we not forget your children are watching? Children, how can you be better shepherds by listening and obeying your mother and fathers? Anyone who is single, you also have lots of opportunities to be good shepherds by being a person who is holy and reflects the teachings of the church.
My friends in Christ to be a good shepherd takes courage. Let us always hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, leading us to holiness and faithfulness! May we also be good shepherds to those God has entrusted to us!