April 26, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 4:8–12
2nd Reading: 1 Jn 3:1–2
Gospel: Jn 10:11–18
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Not so the hired hand or any other person who is not the shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong. They abandon the sheep as soon as they see the wolf coming; then the wolf snatches and scatters the sheep. This is because the hired hand works for pay and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this I give my life for my sheep. “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. These I have to lead as well, and they shall listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock since there is one Shepherd. “The Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down freely. It is mine to lay down and to take up again: this mission I received from my Father.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
The Philippine Daily Inquirer carried this news item in one of its issues in 2003: “Australia offered to give away 57,000 live sheep to an unnamed country in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia rejected the shipment on health grounds. Animal rights activists had demanded that the sheep be put down, claiming 3,400 of them had died after being stranded for 5 weeks in searing temperatures on the vessel dubbed as ship of death. Saudi Arabia refused to take the sheep after veterinarians found 6 % of the sheep were suffering from the disease scabby mouth.”
This news item easily leads us to the core message of today’s Gospel reading. Saudi Arabia rejected the whole flock, although only 6% of the sheep were found suffering from the scabby mouth disease. Would Saudi Arabia have accepted the flock if only one sheep were sick? With Saudi Arabia’s refusal to take chances on the flock even if only 6% of the sheep were sick, we can safely conclude that there was no way to convince it to accept the flock even if only one sheep were sick.
The contrary perfectly describes Jesus’ disposition towards his flock. As the Gospel tells us, Jesus is willing to leave the 99 in search for one lost sheep. But how pathetic that even as Jesus is willing to reach out to the “rejects”, the sheep themselves belonging to that same flock may be rejecting each other. This attitude can spoil the work of grace because it can dampen the healing effects of Jesus’ embrace on the lost one. In most communities there are members who are quick to condemn, slow to forgive and reluctant in helping erring members during the re-integration process. Now who are the real fallen ones? These are those belonging to the 99 who think that God owes them something for being good. They are the shadows of the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son who was too self-righteous to accept his repentant brother back. What then do they need a savior for?
The Good Shepherd ushers lost sheep back to our community every day. May we not render Christ’s compassion and mercy nugatory by standing in the way! – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.Website: http://www.frdan.org.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, as we thank you for sending us Jesus as our Good Shepherd, we ask you to give us forgiving hearts so that we may become shepherds to one another like Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: ST. FRANCA VISALTA was only 7 years old when she was placed in a Benedictine convent and was 14 when she made her religious profession. Her position as abbess was short-lived. Because of the strictness of her rule she was deposed, although she continued to live in the convent suffering willingly the humiliation resulting from her ouster. But there were many others who were inspired by her austere life. Carentia who entered the Cistercian novitiate, was one of her followers. When a Cistercian house was built by Carentia’s parents, St. Franca was invited to become its abbess.