April 30, 2023
Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)—Good Shepherd Sunday
Readings for Today
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:1–3
The people of Jesus’ time would have easily understood this story. It was common practice for shepherds to talk to their sheep throughout the day so that the sheep became familiar with the shepherd’s voice as he led them through various pastures for grazing. At night, several shepherds would bring their sheep together within secured gates for safety. In the morning, each shepherd would then call to his sheep and, because they knew their shepherd’s voice, the sheep would follow their own shepherd and not the others.
The first question for each of us to ask ourselves today is this: Do I know the voice of the Shepherd? Have I become so familiar with His voice that I can clearly distinguish His voice from others? Try to imagine the image of several shepherds all calling their sheep at once. This is an image of the competing voices we encounter in our lives. But only one of those voices is the voice of God. Do you know His voice? Or do you become confused with the many other impulses, desires and attractions that vie for your attention?
Jesus continued his teaching by saying that He is not only the Shepherd whose voice is known by the sheep, but He is also the gate. “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” What does our Lord mean when He calls Himself the gate?
As the Gate, He is the Word of God, revealed to us through the Scriptures. Fidelity to the Word of God is one of the surest ways to the life of grace. He is the Word of Truth as it is handed down and expounded upon by the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church. Fidelity to the authentic teaching of the Magisterium, especially when the Holy Father speaks in union with the bishops, will help us navigate the many errors of our age. Jesus is made present to us through the Sacraments, which are the door to His grace and the entryway to the food for our spiritual lives. Furthermore, any time our Lord comes to us, through holy preaching, the witness and teaching of the saints, and the life of prayer within the Church, or in any other way, we enter the gate and are admitted into His verdant pastures.
Jesus is the gate, not only for the sheep but for each of the shepherds who lead the sheep in His name. These are the pastors of the Church who have been entrusted with the mission of Christ to lead God’s people. Today, if a shepherd of the Church fails to preach Jesus Christ, then that shepherd “comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy.” Pastors of the Church must humbly listen carefully to these words so that they never fail to shepherd God’s people by leading them through the Gate, Who is Christ Himself. They must all be faithful to the whole Tradition of our Church, handed on throughout the ages, and not deviate from the pure and holy deposit of faith. If they preach their own gospel, or are negligent or misleading in their preaching, then they are not true shepherds. God’s true sheep will not recognize them. But if they are faithful to all that Jesus has taught, then they will lead the sheep through the gate and become shepherds in union with the Heart of the Good Shepherd.
Reflect, today, upon the image of Christ the Good Shepherd, calling to us in a variety of ways. We must learn His true voice through faith and prayer. Once we recognize His voice, we will more easily discover Him ministering to us, inspiring us, and inviting us to the life of grace by encountering Him as the source and way to this new life.
Good Shepherd, You speak to me continuously, revealing to me Your presence and guidance in my life. May I become so familiar with Your sacred Voice that I will always recognize it. Lead me to Yourself, the glorious Gate to the life of grace, and transform me into a faithful and obedient sheep. Jesus, my Good Shepherd, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Pius V, Pope
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday