Homily (2) 4th Sunday of Easter Year A/Mother’s Day: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoActs 2:14a, 36-41; Ps 23; 1Peter 2:20b-25 and John 10:1-10
Christ the Good Shepherd and Guardian of our souls
Today is Mother’s Day in our nations and World Day of Prayer for Vocation. Interestingly the metaphorical emphasis on the reading are on Christ the true and Good Shepherd, who loves, guards our souls, and wipes our tears. What we see in Christ in today’s reading often reflects in the persons of our good mothers and parents. They care for us. They feed us, they love us, pay our tuition fees and wipe out our tears.
Tears here remind me stories told about me when I was between the ages of 1 and 6. We are six siblings. I am the baby of the house. I was told by my parents and my elderly ones that I used to cry a lot each time my mum was leaving home for groceries, or to the farm. I acted as if I had lost something or someone. But on her return I would be filled with joy. Usually, she comes home with gifts, wipes away my tears, and reassures me that she left home temporarily to get vegetables from the farms or some food items from the grocery store, for the good of the family.
Peter in the first two readings (Acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1Pt 2:20b-25) is preaching to the post resurrectional church. This church experienced some difficulties, including crises of faith, corruption of all types, a sense of doubt and loss of their master, and persecutions. Some wept that Christ was no longer physically there, as I would do when mum was temporarily away.
It is the role of Peter to encourage this persecuted and disillusioned community. For Peter and rightly so, Jesus crucified is not dead. Rather God has made him Lord and Christ. He continues to watch over us and searches for us as shepherd searches after his lost sheep. We find this traditional imagery of God as a Good shepherd recorded not only in Jeremiah chapter 23 and Ezekiel chapter 34, but also in Psalm 23, which we just chanted while ago “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”
Of course John expands into this imagery. He is not only the Good Shepherd who feeds, listens, smells, protects the sheep, he is the gateway and the Church is the sheepfold. And who ever enters through the gateway- Christ will be saved. For Christ like a good mother comes that we may all have life (John 10:10).
Fed days ago one of the basketball star Kevin Duran, while receiving NBA award speaks positively and highly of his mother who sacrificed so much to raise him and his brother as a single parent. Every night the mum would go to bed hungry but made sure that he and his brother ate. They were poor, moving from one unfurnished apartment to another. In the midst of this poverty, their mom was always there for them.
This love and availability of a good mother is who Christ is for us. Christ is always there for us. Just as Kevin would trust and appreciate the mom, the dignities and the blessings of our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters and all women around us must be appreciated and respected. On this day we must also pray for those girls, victims of the Terrorist group, called Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and for peace in places where war and violent are used as means to abuse, disrespect women and our mothers around the world.
Above all, may we not lose sight of what God has done for us in Christ, the everlasting Good Shepherd, who knows each of us by name!