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'I am the good shepherd'

'I am the good shepherd'

April 29, 2007 is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the "44th World Day of Prayer for Vocations." We are called to be united as one flock under the guidance of our one shepherd, Jesus. Pope Benedict XIV invites the whole people of God to the following theme, "The vocation to the service of the Church as communion."
Gospel: Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." (John 10:27-30).
The Acts of the Apostles is the second volume of Luke's two-volume work. In Acts, Luke describes the emergence of Christianity from a Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem to a series of Christian communities among the Gentiles of the Roman Empire, to the ends of the earth. The growth was accomplished after the resurrection of Jesus, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the Apostles and the succeeding generation. Acts 13 describes the first missionary effort in Asia Minor and Antioch becomes the center from which the missionaries Barnabas and Paul are sent out.
Reading 1: Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God. On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth."
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:14, 43-52).
Sheep of his flock
Psalm 100 is a short processional hymn of thanksgiving. The psalmist invites all the nations of the earth to join them in thanksgiving and praising the Lord, the "Good Shepherd."
Responsorial Psalm: We are his people, the sheep of his flock. Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song. Know that the LORD is God; he made us his, we are his people, the flock he tends. The LORD is good: his kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations. We are his people, the sheep of his flock. (Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5).
Revelation uses the image of the "Lamb" twenty-eight times as a designation for the exalted Christ, highlighting his sacrificial role. "White" is a sign of victory, joy and the Resurrection. "Life-giving water" is the water of life, God's grace which flows from Christ.
Life-giving water
Reading II: I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
Then one of the elders said to me, "These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they stand before God's throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:9, 14b-17).
References to sheep occur more than 500 times in the Bible. In biblical times "sheep represented the chief wealth and the total livelihood of pastoral peoples, providing the peoples of the Bible with food to eat (1 Samuel 14:32), milk to drink (Isaiah 7:21-22), wool for the weaving of cloth (Leviticus 13:47-48; Job 31:20; Ezekiel 34:3). Sheep served as a medium of exchange (2 Kings 3:4; Ezekiel 27:18-19) and figured centrally in the sacrificial system (Exodus 20:24; Numbers 22:40; John 2:14)"
The image of Yahweh as the shepherd of Israel is common in the Old Testament (Genesis 48:15; 49:24; Exodus 34; Micah 7:14; Psalm 23). Psalm 23, a psalm of trust is the most popular psalm using the image of God as a shepherd." "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." This Psalm was written as if a sheep were telling his friends about his great and loving shepherd and how he faithfully cares for him.
The Bible often refers to God's people as sheep. Sheep knows the voice of its shepherd and follows him. A good shepherd cares for his sheep and will even risk his own life to protect them. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me" (John 10:14). Jesus Christ by dying on the Cross, lays down his life for us, save us and gave us new life.
Migrants are the good shepherds as exemplified by Aurora who wrote us this letter: "Father Joy, greetings in the name of the Lord. Thank you for the religious tapes. I listen to them especially at night. I sleep very late and very little since I am a caregiver. I also work at my employer's factory at the same time. My hands hurt and they have gotten numb from all the heavy chores that I have been required to do.
I get very little sleep since I have to take care of Ahkong, and I have to finish my chores at the factory everyday. Please pray for me. I need to have the strength to keep my job. I am supporting my parents and siblings and they need my help. - Aurora."
Aurora is the good shepherd. She tends to the needs of her family. She willingly sacrifices her life so that she can support them. Migrants care for our homes, children, the sick and the elderly. They manufacture the goods in our factories and keep our economy strong and competitive. Migrants are their family's breadwinners. They are the good shepherds in our midst.
The term vocation comes from the Latin word "vocare" meaning "to call." The Church invites us to honor all Christian vocations - married life, religious life and single-blessedness. The annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations highlights the importance of vocations in the life and mission of the Church, as well as for intensifying our prayer that they may increase in number and quality. By our baptism we are called, chosen, and sent to carry on the mission of Jesus. May we find peace and fulfillment in our vocation.
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following you does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though, I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my struggles alone. Amen." (Thomas Merton's prayer on discernment).
Announcements
Tune in to AM864 every Sunday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. to a radio program brought to you by the UGNAYAN Migrant Ministry. Send your prayer requests to 0930-44-6060.
You may contact Father Joy at 0930-44-6060. You may write him at joyalito@yahoo.com, or No. 3, Lane 14, Jilin Road, Taipei 104.


Updated : 2021-03-01 18:19 GMT+08:00