Monday, 19 April 2010

Some Thoughts on Good Shepherd Sunday

In the Gospel for Sunday, Our Lord declares Himself to be the Good Shepherd, which refers back also to the well-known Psalm (22), 'The Lord is my shepherd', showing that Jesus is the one promised to the Jews as a fulfillment of their Law.

What use are sheep for us? Does each have an intrinsic value for us, which is more than the flavour of a few lamb dinners? If we were to lose a sheep from our fold, would we not simply say, 'it does not matter, I have ninety-nine left'? We look merely at a collection of animals, and only at the slight benefit they are to us in food, or as an economic unit to be traded.
Yet, this is not how Christ views us. For Him, each of us has a great value in His sight. Not because we can return anything of value to Him that He lacks, but because we are His creatures. Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say that even if we were not loveable, God loves us as He puts His love into us. He laid down His life freely for us, so that we may have life and have it in abundance. As He said, 'there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous men in no need of repentence'.
The Passion and Death of our Lord does not allow us to do whatever we wish, as we have the promise that He has it 'covered'. His Crucifixion and Death give us a great opportunity, one that must not be taken for granted. The sheep that stray from the shepherd, will easily be devoured by the passing wolves. We too, if we are not careful in remaining close to God, will be torn apart by the corruption of this world. We have no excuse when this happens, this is utterly of our own doing. Christ never departs from us and His Sacrifice will have infinite value before His Heavenly Father, but as Hebrews states, 'for if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins' (10:26). Let us often then reflect on our standing before God, isf He the foundation of our lives? Or do we 'compartmentalise' our faith, dragging it out of its box on a Sunday or whenever someone dies? Christ gave His entire being for us without reserve, our ransom has not been paid for in anything corruptable, but by the precious blood of the Lamb.

Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote, 'God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.'

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