Friday, April 27, 2012

Homily 4th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 4th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Reading: Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118:1-9;21-23,26,28-29; I John 3:1-2 ; John 10:11-18

Love, Power of the Good Shepherd

Today we celebrate the gift, the power of love  which Christ, the Good Shepherd, has lavished upon us, the sheep of his flock. In the Gospel reading, Jesus unequivocally declares;

“I am the Good Shepherd (He didn’t say, I am the false shepherd). A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….I know mine and mine know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father… I lead and they must hear my voice and there will be one flock.. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again,” (John 10:11-18).

Christ's power lies in his love for us.  It lies in how he cares,  and how he listens to us. Christ knows us by name. He knows our in and out. He knows our weaknesses and strengths. He leads, feeds and loves us voluntarily. It is not forced. It is not faked. It is not for material gain. He was not hired, but Christ is God the Father taking a journey in His Son to love and saves us.

Compare that with a bad hired shepherd, who works for money. He doesn’t care if the sheep is scattered or is devoured by wolfs of false teaching and secularism. Prophet Ezekiel 34, a prophet of  exile  distinguishes Christ from false shepherds. He says to them:

“You shepherd of Israel you have been feeding yourselves! Should not the shepherd feed the sheep. You eat the fat, you cloth yourselves with the wool, have not strengthen  the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back he strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.”

The difference cannot be too clear. The ultimate power of false shepherds is selfishness, while the ultimate power of Christ the Good Shepherd is selflessness; His voluntariness in, feeding, listening, knowing, caring, healing, loving and saving us. Peter filled with the Holy Spirit confirms and says in the 1st reading, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved,” (Acts 4:8-12).

The challenge for us today is as  the 2nd reading puts it to get to know Christ, the Good Shepherd and appreciate how much he cares and loves us; and to get to decipher between a Good Shepherd and strange voices of false shepherds today.  Remember false shepherds can show up in inappropriate TV ads and shows. They can show up in bad literature, strange politics and philosophies. They can even show up in the bad company we keep.

But we have the confidence that the power of Christ, the Good Shepherd endures for ever. His power to lead us, love us, to feed us, provide for us, listen  to us when we pray, know each of us by name, care for us, look after us especially when when we  go astray, heal us when we are sick and  save us with his saving grace.
Love is the power of Christ the Good Shepherd!