Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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Fourth Sunday of Easter 2007
April 29 Year : C
The readings:
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Rev. 7:9, 14-7; Jn. 10:27-30

My sheep hear My voice and follow Me

First Reading...
"Paul and Barnabas went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.

When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jewish officials saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul.

Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, 'It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, 'I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'' When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers.

Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the officials incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." [Acts 13:14, 43-52]

Second Reading...
"After this I, John, looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

And one of the elders then said to me, 'These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'" [Rev. 7:9, 14-7]

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus said, 'My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." [Jn. 10:27-30]

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Incident:
A young man called Christopher was an alcoholic, drug addict. One night as he was coming home late at night (at 2.30 am) he saw light in a chapel. There were the adoration sisters adoring the Blessed Sacrament. He spent time and heard the passage of the good shepherd in search of the lost sheep. He was consoled and strengthened with the assurance that Jesus is truly searching him. A few months later he joined the Carmelite Order. Today he is a priest working among the drug addicts in California region. 

Episode:
Allen Mark, a young man was condemned to death in 1992 in New York City. Before the capital punishment was pronounced, Allen got friendly with a priest, who visited him frequently. One day almost when the days were approaching for his death, the priest found a picture of the Good Shepherd on the wall of his cell. Curiously he asked the significance of the picture at that moment. Allen explains the truth saying that he was orphaned at an early age. His father was an alcoholic and was harassing his mother. One day he died of an accident. Later mom also died of an incurable disease. Before her death she gave him the picture of the good shepherd saying that in any trouble he has to pray to the Good Shepherd. But unfortunately Allen himself became a criminal and raped a girl and murdered her. Now he was serving this death sentence. On the day of his capital punishment, the police asked the young man for the last wish to be fulfilled. Allen requested the priest to bring the picture of the Good Shepherd and Allen reverently kissed it and that sparked a row. The man, the father of the girl murdered threw a chair at the glass through which he had to witness the execution and broke it. He shouted, ‘Allen is innocent, Allen is innocent’. Later Allen was sent to jail, and released. Allen directly goes to the father of the girl and falls at his feet asking why he prevented his execution. The father said, the picture of the Good Shepherd prevented it and he would accept Allen as his son. 

Gospel Reflection:
He came to seek the lost one. He goes in search of them. Jesus called himself the good shepherd who has come to lay down his life. He calls himself to the Door, the Way, the Light, and the Life. He refused to be called the human teacher. Rather preferred himself to be called the Divine Teacher. The Door to the Father was himself. No one would go to the Father except through Him. Finally he became the sheep who became the victim in saving the other sheep, specially the lost one. 

Jesus claimed himself as the unique teacher. He would not only give ideas and new insights into life, but he would give his own life to them all. “I have come that men may have life, and may have it in all its fullness” (John 10:10). 

It is easy to give ideas and doctrines, but difficult to live and give ones life. Our blessed Lord did nothing but give life through his own life. He would give life Eternal, a life that will last for ever. 

Man needs to be told that there exists life after death. Nature cannot give life after death. Plants even cannot convince of the life after death. Nor animals indicate that there exists life after death. Human beings can and are able to think about life after death. But Jesus was the one who proclaimed life abundantly. That is why He had to become man to make man enjoy this life abundantly. 

In the Old Testament we have the beautiful imagery of God leading people from bondage to freedom through the desert. That was the task of a shepherd. 

God is depicted by Isaiah as carrying His sheep in his arms, and by Ezekiel as a shepherd looking for His lost sheep. Zachariah gave the saddest picture of all in prophesying that the Messiah shepherd would be struck, and the sheep dispersed. 

The best known is the Psalm 23 The lord is my shepherd, there is nothing shall I WANT. 

The imagery of the good shepherd so beautifully agrees with the Seven Sacraments:  

John 10:1-18: continuation of today’s Gospel passage 

  1. The sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name” (verse 3) = the reference to Baptism. In Baptism we are called by name. Of course we are carved on the palm of his hand Ezekiel 36.23. He will never forget us. 

  2. He leads them out” (verse 3b): Leading them out to the pastures. When he leads them out he strengthens them = Confirmation. The sacrament of confirmation is to fortify us. We are led into the world to face the realities of the world. It is not by living inside that we are able to proclaim the word, rather we need to face and challenge the world. “He goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. 

  3. Whoever comes in by me will be saved; he will come in and go out and find pasture” (verse 9) = the reference here is to the Holy Eucharist. Jesus gives us food and nourishes us. We need to enter the gate to get our food. The gate is the Church. The food is the Eucharist. “I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness” (verse 10) 

  4. I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep” (verse 11). This indication is for reconciliation. Jesus in fact died for our sins. He has left this sacrament of reconciliation so that we might come back even when we are wounded. The good shepherd comes in search of the lost sheep. 

  5. I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me” (verse 14-15) = refers to the anointing of the sick. The doctor knows the sickness, the patient. His work is to suggest medicine. Strengthen him. Jesus knows us better than we ourselves know. The shepherd has to nurse the wounds of his sheep. 

  6. Jesus invites all of us through St. Peter to become the good shepherds. Peter was asked thrice “do you love me?”. At the reply Jesus says “feed my sheep” which signifies, if Jesus is the shepherd we too are called to be the shepherds. This invitation is a call either to a lay person or to a priest to be the shepherd. (Priesthood and Matrimony

How can I become the good shepherd in my Parish life? 

  • Giving good example: responsibility, work, virtues etc.

  • Good intentions and good will

  • Helping those who are weak

  • Consoling the distressed

  • Respecting the others

  • Loving and caring the house.

  • Looking after the Church. Shepherding the Church activities (it is not only the responsibility of the parish priest.)

Being good shepherd In the World: 

  • Teaching

  • Meeting with people and relationship

  • Dealing with specially with the opposite sex

  • Preaching through our lives

  • Good example in public appearances

  • Mingling with the poor and rich alike

  • Regarding food and drinks outside.

  • Our words and jokes

  • Getting addresses and writing letters

  • How familiar we are with only certain people?

  • Our attitude should be Christ like.

  • Are we too conscious of our physical beauty and elegance than spiritual?

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Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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