Fourth Sunday of Easter

In 1953  during the Korean War,  the communist army decided to drive thousands of people across the country in freezing cold weather.  Very many of them died along the way,  it was called the Lydda death march.  The stronger ones tried to help the weaker ones. Among them was a Bishop, he was young, strong, and healthy;  and people remembered later on, that when they looked at him, he was always carrying someone on his back. There are people like that, who are driven by something inside,  and they try to help the weaker ones, as if they were a shepherd for the weaker ones.  We have seen a wonderful example of this during the pandemic, with the thousands of front-line  workers who risked their lives every day for the weaker ones. Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter or Good Shepherd Sunday. This image of the Good Shepherd is one of the most beautiful images we have in our Christian tradition. We have all seen pictures and statues of a young beardless man holding a sheep over his shoulders. This image was very relevant and common for the agrarian culture of the 1st century. In the gospel fo St. John, we read that the Good Shepherd is one who knows his sheep; one who speaks to them; and they know his voice;  one who walks before them,  but especially one who lays down his life for his sheep. A good shepherd is always other oriented, willing to share his life that others might live. When we see Jesus dying on the cross,  we see the good shepherd laying down his life for his sheep, dying, so as to bring them home.  One of the most beautiful aspects of the good shepherd, is his love for the lost sheep.  When we stray from Jesus,  Jesus does not let us go, but like a broken hearted mother or father, searching for a lost child, he searches for us; even though it may take years,  he never gives up.  Jesus never gives up on a sinner.  When we realise how much he loves us,  we are motivated to love him in return.  Then we too become shepherds, because of hs love for us, we too learn to help the weaker one to keep going; the fallen one to get back on their feet,  the lost one to find their way home.  In this way, we participate in the great mission of the good shpeherd –  to save the world. To conclude, there is a wonderful consoling thought,  when the time comes for us to go, who will come to bring us home?  That same good shepherd who laid down his life  for us on the cross, he will come, he will put us on his shoulders,  and carry us home to that place that he has prepared for us.  Can we imagine a more beautiful thought?