I am the good shepherd. Fourth Sunday of Easter,

I am the good shepherd. Fourth Sunday of Easter, 22 April 2018
Fr. Peter Zhao Jianmin
This Sunday is also called the good shepherd Sunday and a calling for vocations, particularly for priest vocation. Nevertheless, every Christian, by baptism, has been required to follow the good shepherd in his own manner according to his or her vocation. A priest needs to follow the good shepherd to lay down his life for the Christians and even for the non-believers in his parish and in his diocese. A married one needs to follow the good shepherd to lay down his or her life for his wife, for her husband, for their children and for their parents in their family.
Jesus is the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep. However, let us remember that lays down his life does not only mean Jesus was crucified on the cross for saving human being, but also means that, his born, his living in desert, his healing people, his teaching, his death and his resurrection, the whole of His life has been laid down for the salvation. Few days ago, in his exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis encourages us that: Let us not forget that Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details. The little detail that wine was running out at a party. The little detail that one sheep was missing. The little detail of noticing the widow who offered her two small coins. The little detail of having spare oil for the lamps, should the bridegroom delay. The little detail of asking the disciples how many loaves of bread they had. The little detail of having a fire burning and a fish cooking as he waited for the disciples at daybreak.(144) The good shepherd has showed us the way of laying down his life in details for human being. Yes, a good shepherd shall notice the little detail of the life of others.
Jesus is the good shepherd, who has constantly prayed in his life: fourty days in the desert, before healing people, before going to Jerusalem, on the cross, etc. He asked his disciples to pray with him to strengthen their body and soul. Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.(Mk 14:38)cf. Lk 112, Lk 18:1Jesus the Lord prayed and asked his disciples for praying. If we truly follow Jesus the good shepherd, we must pray, pray alone, pray with others, pray in our family, pray in our community. The Church is gathered togher through prayer. Without prayer with Jesus Christ, without the Church. Pope Francis explained this clearly: Prayer of supplication is an expression of a heart that trusts in God and realizes that of itself it can do nothing.(GE 154) If indeed we pray from our heart, we might obtain the strength for our body and soul. We need to remember that it is prayer that abstains us from every form of evil, it is prayer that keeps us awake and does not allow us to fall asleep. Prayer from a heart can strengthen the links of our community and of our family in what so ever difficulties we might face.
Jesus is the good shepherd, who is the resources of our joy and happiness in our life. A good shepherd is to bring people to the Lord the only shepherd. It is true that the devil is always trying to overcome us and to bring us against the Spirit in our life. Yes, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.(Jn 3:5) As christians, we have born of water, yet we need to be constantly born of the Holy Spirit. The devil will bring us selfishness, egotism, jealousy, hatred, idoltry, etc. But in contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness. (Gal 5:22) The day that we bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the day that we rejoice and leap for joy. A good shepherd is to bring people to this good pastures and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing ground(Ezek 34:14) and in this good pastures people can bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is our reborn of the Holy Spirit. This is the spiritual life that we are looking for. This is the kingdom of God that we can enter in the earth. We must hold firmly this direction of life. Otherwise our life could be in a disaster that Pope Francis has warned us by using the word spiritual corruption: Spiritual corruption is worse than the fall of a sinner, for it is a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centredness, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).(GE 165)
Therefore, the good shepherd Sunday is not only a calling for priest vocation, but also a calling for every people who are following Jesus Christ and for those who are searching for a joy and happy life. Amen.