Good Shepherd Sunday: Fourth Sunday of Easter
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni – Fourth Easter Sunday –
Sermon And Christian Act In The Word
Theme: Good Shepherd Sunday! Vocations Sunday! Listen to the Right Voice!
Point of Reflection: Which voice do we listen to? Who do we listen to?
Today the mother Church celebrates the Good Shepherd Sunday which is also the Vocation Sunday, and the Word of God today presents us with two images, the Children of God and the Good Shepherd.
Let us listen to the right voice of God. Jesus Christ is calling each one of us and our duty is to recognise his voice and listen to his voice. In this world, they are many voices, today, let us pray that we must always recognize and listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. In the Gospel, Jesus calls for acceptance of his voice as that of the good shepherd who leads his flock to the Father. Many heard him, and yet, as the Gospel shows, few chose to listen and respond to his voice. The Psalmist knew the importance of listening to the right voice when he exhorts, “know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his”.
First Reading: Acts 13:14, 43–52
Psalm: Psalm 100:1–3, 5
Second Reading: Revelation 7:9, 14–17
Gospel: John 10:27–30
Sermon (Reflection): The short Gospel passage of today refers to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. To describe the relationship between Jesus and his sheep, John uses the idea of mutual recognition. The sheep instinctively recognise the voice of the shepherd and follow him, while the shepherd knows and recognises the sheep that are his. This reciprocal knowledge binds Jesus and his disciples, leading to a union that has two distinct but connected outcomes – eternal life and security.
First, Jesus guarantees that his disciples will live eternally because they are joined to him, the one who overcomes death. Second, Jesus guarantees that “no one will snatch them out of my hand”. This implies that no force in this world will separate believers from Jesus if they cling to him. If Jesus is powerful enough to overcome death, then no other enemy can threaten his sheep.
The second part of the passage discloses the source of Jesus’ power and authority and his union with the Father. God himself brought his chosen sheep to Jesus. Therefore, those whom Jesus holds to himself, he ultimately holds for God. Jesus states that he and the Father are one. This means that the two act in complete union and harmony to protect the believers and lead them to eternal life.
The underlying message of this passage is that believers must listen to the voice of their shepherd, Jesus. Behind Jesus’ statement, “my sheep hear my voice,” lies an admonition to hear and follow his voice calling for faith and love. Such responsive listening leads to a union with him and, through him, with the Father.
Either we are being called or some of us have already responded to the call of Marriage life or Priestly life or single life or religious, each and every day we need to discern and listen to the voice of the Lord, not any other voice which can destruct us from doing the will of the Good Shepherd.
Christian Act in Word of God “Listen to the voice of God!”
As Christians, today we celebrate Jesus as the good shepherd whose care for us has been manifested in numerous ways in these Easter Season celebrations, particularly in how he protects and restores our lives as our redeemer. The theme for this Sunday invites us to listen attentively to his voice, to benefit even more from his care.
To listen to the voice of our good shepherd we need first to cultivate an attitude of listening. The first reading reminds us of the journey of Paul and Barnabas. It was a journey filled with a lot of disapproval and enmity from their opponents. They prevailed, motivated by the word of God, “I have set you to be light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” Listening and making these words their own, Paul and Barnabas succeeded in their mission.
Second, the liturgy reminds us that listening to the voice of Christ helps us to be more objective in life. In the first reading, we see the Jews opposing and influencing devout women to contradict Paul and Barnabas because they felt their position threatened. Often, we listen to the voice of our ego which speaks out of pride, fear, and intolerance. This brings us into conflict and strife. We need to allow the voice of Christ to transform our thoughts in such a way that we can look at situations of life and other people with an objective mind. The voice of Christ announcing the message of peace, love, and tolerance is the right voice to listen to.
Our world today is filled with numerous voices which often drown out the voice of Christ.
To hear the Lord, we must open our hearts and choose to listen to him over the voices of discouragement, self-pity, violence, revenge, greed, hatred, pride, pain, poverty, rejection, suffering, and tribulation. In the opening of our hearts, we offer him what we hunger and thirst for, so that he can have his way in our lives. We must ask ourselves daily about which voice or voices we hear, and which voices we choose to follow. Depending on the answer, we also need to reflect on how to cultivate a habit of listening to the voice of God, even amid the daily pressures of life.
During this Easter season let us allow ourselves to be guided by the voice of God because only through listening to him will we gain eternal life. Jesus remains the good shepherd who cares for his sheep and will even give his life to save the sheep, but we need to build a relationship with him so that we can recognise his voice even amid life’s chaos. Our listening leads to a union with Christ, and, through him, with the Father.
Action: I will listen to the voice of God with all my heart
Prayer: Jesus the Good Shepherd, thank you for caring about us as your flock. Help us to listen to your voice in our lives so that we may do your will. Teach us to have an open heart, and may we never allow the many noises of the world to overshadow your calling in our lives. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you, one God forever and ever, Amen.