"Jesus Is the Good Shepherd"

3 May 2020

“The Good Shepherd is risen! He who laid down His life for His sheep, who died for His flock, He is risen, alleluia.” Communion Antiphon

Today’s liturgy emphasizes the images of the Good Shepherd who sacrificed His life for His sheep to bring them back to His fold. St. Peter reminds us of this when he says: “…and by his stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” I Pet. 2:24-5 We pray in the prayer over the gifts today: “…(that) the continuing work of our Redeemer (will) bring us eternal joy…” In the opening prayer, we asked God the Father to “give us new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd, and lead us to join the saints in heaven.” All good things come from Christ, our Good Shepherd and Redeemer. From Him we have the hope of eternal joy and the strength and courage to lead good lives here in order to be with the saints in heaven. In today’s Second Reading from the Book of Revelation, St. John gives us a vision of our heavenly home where a great multitude which no man could number out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues…” Rev. 7: 9 These are those who have been saved by “blood of the lamb” (Rev. 12:11) who is our Good Shepherd who died for our sins: “For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and guide them to the fountains of the waters of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rev. 7:17

The Good Shepherd gave His life for His Sheep

Because Jesus saved us from our sins, we owe Him our very lives. The Old Testament spoke frequently of the Messiah as the good shepherd. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep and provided other shepherds to continue His mission on earth. Jesus came to give us abundant life: I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” Jn. 10:10. He is the door and all who come to Him will have abundant pasture: I am the door. If anyone enter by me, he shall be safe. If anyone come to me, he shall be safe, and shall go and go out, and shall find pastures.” Jn. 10:9-10. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name: I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and nine know me. Jn. 10: 14. He is the only Shepherd who has only one flock: “And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one-fold and one shepherd.” Jn. 10:16.

St. Peter, the Shepherd of the Church

In His last appearance before He ascended into heaven, Jesus made Peter the shepherd of His flock. He also forgave him for his threefold denial of Him by telling Peter to feed his flock three times: “ ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me more than these do?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs... Feed my lambs… Feed my sheep’” Jn. 21:15-18 By these words, Jesus forgave Peter for his denial and confirmed His earlier decision to make Peter the head of the head of His church: And I say to thee, thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Mt. 16:18. Peter is to be Vicar of Christ on earth, and he will direct and govern the Church as a good Shepherd. Vatican II tells us that Jesus “put Peter at the head of the other Apostles, and int him he set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity of both faith and communion.” Lumen Gentium, 18 Where “Peter is, there is Christ’s Church!” “Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia!”

Primacy of Peter, Vicar of Christ

The Church is built on the primacy of Peter, as on a rock (petras) until the end of the world (“gates of hell shall not prevail against it”) When Peter was imprisoned, the early Christians prayed unceasingly to God for him. St. John Chrysostom tells us how much they loved him: “Look how the faithful feel for their pastors. They don’t resort to protest or rebellion, but to prayer as an unfailing remedy. They did not say: as we are powerless men, it is useless to pray for him. They never reasoned in this way, but prayed with love.Homilies on the Acts of Apostles, 26

Pope Francis I, Successor of Peter,

Vicar of Christ

We ought to pray often for Pope Francis and his intentions since he bears the heavy burden of the Church on his shoulders. We could say the following liturgical prayer: “May the Lord keep him and give him life, make him happy on earth and save him from deliverance in the hands of his enemies.” (Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 1986, 39.) In today’s world of darkness, he is the only world leader who is calling the people to obey the Commandments of God and to respect for life from the womb to the grave. For this is under constant attack. No wonder Our Lady at Fatima prophesied that “The Holy Father will have much to suffer.” We should unite with the priest at every Mass and pray for the Pope. We should remember him in all our rosaries that he will be able to carry his heavy cross with love and patience. We should say with St. Jose Marie Escriva, “Thank you, my God, for that love for the Pope you have placed in my heart.” The Way, 573