09 May 2010

Our Good Shepherd

4th Sunday of Easter – 25 April 2010

Readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Ps 100:1-2,3,5; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30

This Sunday is called Good Shepherd Sunday. Today we pray for our leaders and reflect on the nature of leadership. Christ has left us an example of what it means to be a leader by showing us the way of the Good Shepherd.

1. The Good Shepherd is also the Lamb of God.

Rev 7,17 (in the Second Reading) says: "the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them".

The lamb in Jewish tradition is an animal used for sacrifice. It is in this context that Jesus is called the Lamb of God, the one sacrifice that takes away the sins of humanity. The traditional Jewish Passover feast has a lamb at the table. At the Last Supper scene there was no mention of the lamb. The Church Fathers point at this seeming gaffe as a symbolism for Jesus both as the paschal lamb of the new and everlasting covenant and the head of the table, i.e., the priest at the altar.

The Good Shepherd as Lamb of God means He is willing to sacrifice Himself in behalf of His sheep. There is a big lesson here for all contemporary shepherd, those who hold positions of leadership -- public servants, parents, priests, etc. Public office and leadership is not about ambition, destiny, inheritance or achievement. It is, a first of all, a vocation to be the least so that others may have and be more.

Jesus says in Mk 9,35: ""If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."

2. The Good Shepherd is one with the Father.

Jesus' unity with the Father is expressed in His faithfulness to the source of His calling and strength. He was effective in bringing about His mission for he was never separated from His Father. As it is with Him, so it is with us.

Jesus says in Jn 15,9: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love."

A leader who has made so much moral compromises, so much concession to corrupt practices, makes himself estranged from his original calling: to serve the people. Tony Blair once quipped in a talk during his visit to the Philippines last year that "Public service is a noble profession in a not-so-noble pursuit".

Similarly, a people who chooses moral compromise and the convenience of corruption, chooses not to heed the voice of the Shepherd.

A political advertisement of a presidential front-runner (no endorsement here) wants us to choose between two paths: one dark and meandering, the other straight and clear. Nice concept.

On second thought, maybe what matters more than choosing which path to take is choosing which companion to have on the journey. Jesus as Shepherd is our trusted companion and guide on our journey towards fullness of life. As He is one with the Father, so must we be united with Him, if we don't want to get lost.

How have you let Jesus be your shepherd you lately?

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