The lost sheep. Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)

Joseph Evans comments on the readings for Sunday IV of Easter and Luis Herrera offers a brief video homily.

Joseph Evans-April 18, 2024-Reading time: 2 minutes

Our Lord uses the images of a sheep, a shepherd and a flock of sheep, both because they were familiar to his listeners in what was then a very rural society and because they describe so well the new kind of community he was creating.

He could have said: "I am the lion king and you are lions in the pride."... Which would have given a very different idea: that we are called to be savage and cruel, dominating our environment by force. But that is not the kind of community that Christ wants to inaugurate.

Thus, Jesus' choice of the sheep as an image is no mere coincidence. We live in a highly individualistic world in which, more and more, social structures - the family, the sense of nationhood - are breaking down. It is therefore essential that we strengthen our conviction that we are Church, that we belong to the Catholic Church, and that we form a true community, a true flock.

We are not just a bunch of individuals who show up in the same building at the same time every Sunday. This is true also because today's Gospel is not as gentle as it might seem at first glance. Jesus speaks of himself as the merciful shepherd, but he does so in a context of threat and crisis. He is the shepherd who defends against the attacking wolf, who gives his life in sacrifice for the sheep. The sheep that thinks it is strong, that can go it alone, that wanders away, is in grave danger of being devoured by the wolf, unless the Good Shepherd gets to it first.

Today's Gospel teaches us that we are called to be sheep, with all the positive things that this image implies: community, unity, allowing ourselves to be guided and protected by Christ the Good Shepherd, and the humility to recognize our need for protection, even though the image of sheep may offend our pride. We are called to be sheep in the sense that being Catholic means letting ourselves be led by the Church, being guided, taught and fed... In this individualistic world we are called to feel happy to be part of a flock, of a community, from which we benefit and to which we contribute: the Church and, within it, our family, in which we also act as good shepherds - or shepherd helpers of Christ - for one another. We must resist the temptation to free ourselves from every bond. Such freedom is illusory and self-destructive. Only in Christ's flock will we find protection.

Homily on the readings of Sunday IV of Easter (B)

The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaA short one-minute reflection for these Sunday readings.

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