The 4th Sunday of Easter is celebrated as Good Shepherd Sunday. Today’s Gospel is quite brief and very rich. Each phrase can be pondered again and again.
The first phrase is, “My sheep hear my voice.” Do I? How do I know that I hear Jesus’ voice? Obviously this is often not very clear. It requires a life stance of discernment, always listening, always searching my heart to know that it is not “my wants” that I choose to follow rather than what Jesus calls me to.
Secondly Jesus says, “They follow me.” Again, do I? What does that mean? We know that if we follow Jesus, we can expect the same treatment Jesus had. Oh, no! If and when I truly take to heart Jesus’ call, it is always a stretching experience, one that leads me beyond where I am to ever deepening love and generosity to those around me and beyond. That’s not always easy!
Jesus promises, “I will give them eternal life.” What an amazing promise! Jesus promises that if we hear His voice and follow Him, we will share the fullness of eternal life forever. Jesus continues, “No one can take them out of my hand. . . . The Father and I are one.” This is an invitation to participate in the life of the Trinity, a life of unending love. It is an invitation to share in the love that ever flows within the Trinity and embraces all of us even now. When I listen to the voice of Jesus and follow Him, that love of the Trinity flows through me and, hopefully, beyond me to everyone I encounter, for we are all one in Christ.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, let us ponder our call to be good sheep of the Good Shepherd.