Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo· Acts 13:14, 43-52;
· Ps 100:1-4, 5;
· Rev 7:9, 14b-17
· John 10:27-30
Christ, the Good Shepherd, who wipes away our tears
Today we celebrate Christ the true and Good Shepherd, who loves us his flock, and wipes 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. Most of us do the same, especially when we loss members of our families! Members of my family are mourning now for the loss of our eldest brother, Mr. Linus Edwin E. Udoekpo. But, there is hope for believers, in spite of this seeming difficulty.
The post- resurrection Church, no doubt had their own difficulties- including crises of faith, sense of doubt and lose of their master, and of course all other kinds of persecutions. Some wept that Christ was no longer there, as I would do when mum was temporarily away.
A typical example is Paul and Barnabas in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 13, today’s first reading. They were persecuted, resisted, rejected, abused and violated because they preached the gospel. But the irony is that they more they were persecuted, and put through all kinds of stress, the more their tears were wiped. The more the word of God was spread throughout the entire region, down to the Gentiles. This gives them great joy and they were filled with the Holy Spirit
With faith and courage it does not take too long to realize that God is always with us. He cares and loves as a loving mother or father, who seemingly leaves, but he/ she is always there for the weeping child. He is that Lamb in the Book of Revelation, who wipes away the tears from the eyes of those who persevere to the end, no matter the challenges the face including death or the loss of their loved ones. He dresses them up with white garments and wipe away their tears.
He is that Good Shepherd in today’s gospel long foreshadowed in Jeremiah, 23, Ezekiel 34 and in Psalm 23. He listens to them. He knows his flock. He heals them when they are sick. He gives them eternal life. And he makes sure no one takes them away from him or from His Father, since he and God the Father are one.
Like Paul and Barnabas, if we approach our personal challenges with faith and courage they are just stepping stones to joy and eternal happiness. They are stepping stones to those moments when our tears shall be wiped out.
If you really look around and compare our challenges with those of everyone else in other parts of the world, it could have been worse. There are so many ways God has blessed us or wiped away our tears!-, the democracy we have, the food, water, electricity, the freedom to worship God. There are some without them. And he wants us to be present for one another, to reach out in whatever way we can to our neighbors, in prayer (think of those who lost their lives in recent terrorist acts globally etc), telephone calls, charity, kindness, visit with the sick, to wipe away the tears of our neighbors- just as a loving mother would wipe away the tears of her children.