Homily by Fr Carlos-April 25th, 2021
In the fourth gospel we read many statements of Christ with this “I am” and a predicate: I am the good shepherd or I am the Resurrection and the life, I am the way the truth and the life. Several times Jesus uses the absolute “ I am”: he tells of his betrayal … so that when it takes place you may believe that I am; before Abraham came to be, I am. In the OT God had claimed to be the “I am”.
This subject statement and predicaton used by Jesus is an allusion to his union with his Father, God Almighty, one and simple, from whom all beings come and the share in the One Beingl The imagery of the shepherd is not all about how to manage a flock of sheep, the best grass for them, the best place. Christ, being the good shepherd is what God was in the Old Testament. It’s God’s relationship with his people in Jesus Christ, because he only does what the Father is doing.
Shepherding for Jesus is not simply herding a nameless group. He knows each one of his sheep.
They were given to him by the Father. Jesus takes care of inner well being of his sheep as we have heard his acts of compassion for the sick, the loved ones of those who died, he did not judge people and condemn the sinner; he was tender to Mary Magdalene and the woman caught in adultery. Jesus goes to the heart of the matter, so to speak. Shepherding is not a theoretical knowledge, but a loving care for each and everyone who follow him. You may ask but why are there so many individuals who seeme to be abandoned by the Shepherd. No he did not. He was with them all the way but they chose a different path. The road to evil ways of life does not happen all of a sudden. It begins with little wrong decisions we make, trying this way and this truth and some new life styles. He knows the depths of our heart: our hunger for peace, rest and a life that does not end.
A life with no tears and pain. A life of success. When we say Jesus knows us by name it express the nature of our person. Jesus sees beyond our given name. He knows our very nature and individual identity according to God. He said once – that no one comes to me unless he has been sent by my Father. In short the Father sent us to Jesus so that Jesus could take care of us. To be known by Jesus by name means his intimate knowledge of us. It gives us joy to be remembered by others and call us by our name after long absences; or in the midst of a group. To be called out of a nameless group means a great respect from the caller for the one called. For Jesus – we are precious.
But as Jesus drew for us the image of his sheep who knows when it is called out, then we as followers and disciples should learn to hear his voice in myriads of cacophonous sound in our daily life. It is not simply knowing the name of Jesus that is involved but to come close to him and experience his tender care and love. This unfortunately is hardly the case in human reality. Here we can see the desire of Jesus that all may be one, that the gospel be preached to all nations and thus they become members of his sheepfold.
In a certain true sense, non-Christians are already sheep. They belong to Christ but they have not yet heard his voice. They belong to him because the father has sent them into this world to be taken cared of. And here comes the task of every Christian to help Jesus gather all into his sheepfold: not by physical force, nor beating them in submission nor using electric prod but that Christians behave like Christ with patient understanding for those who went astray. Not to care for the lost brother or sister is like the Pharisee who prayed in the temple. He has nothing to do with the rest of the people: murderers, idolaters, publicans and sinners.
Jesus called his disciples to himself to teach them in turn how to be good shepherds and in turn by our faith which we received from the apostles we too become shepherds for others. John we can be sure is not thinking about different Christian denomination: leave them be, he who is not against us is for us. The coming into one sheepfold will still take time but it will happen. But as of now there are really very few good shepherds among us.