Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A: Reflections 2 Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A: Reflections 2 Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-6; 1 Pet 2:20b-25 John 10:1-10

Recognizing the voice of the Good Shepherd
As reflected in the Scripture readings, especially in Psalm 23 and John 10, today we celebrate the Good Shepherd Sunday. Our parish is not only named after Christ the Good Shepherd but we the sheep are invited to listen to his voice, the voice of life (Jn 10:10). We are call to follow him. We are invited to make Jesus the Gate, the entrance of our life’s endeavors. Sheep are very humble creatures compared to goats or lions. And those who pasture them are usually very caring, responsible, compassionate, sensitive and approachable. I have witnessed this first-hand in the Holy Land- Israel, Egypt, and Madabba in Jordan, during my years of travel and study of the material culture of the Bible.

The metaphors of today’s reading- sheep, shepherd, and gate- made a lot sense to the early Christian Community. They are still relevance for us today. If Christ is the Shepherd we want to be like Christ in our dealings with one another.  If Christ is the gate, the way to life, we want to walk the way of Christ. Since we are the Sheep and the flock we want to listen to Jesus- in the Holy Scriptures, in the daily and Sunday sermons and homilies in the Holy Eucharist, through the sacraments, in the magisterium- teachings of the Church, in the signs and miracle Christ had work and in one another, rich or poor; for our children through our parents, experience teachers and good mentor. We want to follow him. We want to recognize Christ’s voice not those of strangers.

By strangers here Christ is not referring to somebody from California who happens to come around New York City or Holbrook. He is not referring to French people, Hispanic, Asians, Africans, Russians, Germans, Arabs, and Romans or Americans or people of other nationalities who happen to be here in this church or find themselves in completely new physical environment. There is no stranger in the Church if you obey Christ and strife to Do God’s will.  Rather, Jesus is referring to Pharisees in John’s Gospel who all along rejected Jesus and refuse to acknowledge his divinity, his miraculous power of changing water into wine (Jn 2).

Strange voices were those of the Pharisees who questioned Jesus’ cure of the royal official son. Strange voices were those who question Jesus’ universal interaction with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4). Strange voices are those who rejected Christ compassion on the sick on the Sabbath. Strangers in matters of Christ were those religious leaders who doubted Christ multiplication of loaves and his feeding of the hungry (Jn 6).  Strange voices are those who questioned Christ’s forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8), his healing of the man born blind (Jn 9) and of rising of Lazarus from the death (Jn 11:44-53).

Watch out! Strange voices can also come to us in bad movies, inappropriate TV programs, the literatures we read, the company we keep and strange and non- biblical ideas we share. As a Christian when somebody advices you think through, double check the facts and see if they conform or at least if such thoughts are close to the teachings of Christ or of his Church.

Let us pray at this Mass that we may always listen to Christ the Good Shepherd, the guidance of our souls ( 1 Pet 2:20b-25), follow him- the gate, and like Peter and the Eleven ( Acts 2:14a, 36-41) go out to share the love of Christ  the Good and Ideal Shepherd with our neighbors.