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. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:1-10)
Happy Mother’s Day! I once asked a group of elementary school children: “what is the most important gift that your mom ever gave you?” After a few responses about Christmas and birthday toys, I hinted “You need it every day and it starts with the letter L.” Immediately, a little boy cried out, “Lunch!” When my chuckling about the inherent virtues of a well made PB&J subsided, I coaxed: “It begins with L, ends with E and is four letters long.” A number of voices sang out: “Love.” I replied: “Yes, love is the greatest gift for sure, but there’s even a more important, more foundational gift that we tend to take for granted. “It begins with L, ends with E, is four letters long and rhymes with WIFE.” Eager to be lauded, a universal chorus rang out: “Life!”
Mothers give life. They nurture life. They devote their life to lives their children. In recognition of their role as givers and sustainers of life, we honor all of our mothers both living and deceased. As one of our children put it: “we love mom, because she is MOM!” On this weekend, when we celebrate mother’s day, we call to mind the prophet Isaiah who speaks of God’s love for us using maternal language: As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you (Is. 66:13). The instinctual and potent bond that forms between mother and child shapes our understanding of God’s unconditional care for us, especially in times of need. Just as our mother gives us life, so too, it is God’s love that creates and sustains us.
In the Sunday’s following Easter, we have seen the power of Easter come alive through various gifts of the Resurrection. Easter is not just a day, but a whole season! So a river of blessings and virtues flow from Easter into the following Sundays. On the 2nd Sunday of Easter, we relished the gift of the ocean of God’s forgiveness on Divine Mercy Sunday. In the wake of the Resurrection, God’s mercy invites us to trust in his loving care. Last week, Christ appears to the timid, fearful and anxious disciples on the Road to Emmaus and gives them the gift of Eucharist. Animated by this gift, they are empowered to race back to the place of sorrow and share the good news of the Risen Christ. Through strength which the Eucharist offers us every time we participate at Mass, we too are inspired to witness to Christ is our lives.
This weekend as a Church we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. Reflecting on the Christ Good shepherd helps us to understand the spiritual significance of mother’s day. At the heart of this celebration is the gift of life. In contrast to shepherds who work for money or some other selfish motive, Jesus is a shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for his flock. The tender love and compassion courage of our Good Shepherd gives us confidence that he is with us in wherever we are in life’s journey. As the Psalmist says: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” (Ps. 23) Our sacrificial shepherd is always at our side to guide us.
Life to the church through sacraments. Prayer for vocations
This gift flows from blessings of Easter. Flowing from these Easter gifts, this week we have the image of Christ the Good Shepherd.