Fourth Sunday of Easter
Father Steven Reilly, LC
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, we continue celebrating the joy of Easter. This meditation is a privileged moment to experience this happiness. I offer you my faith and devotion.
Petition: Lord, help me to realize that I am known and loved infinitely!
- God Is Not a Watchmaker: Philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment were enthralled with Reason. They looked at the universe and saw logic and law, and they likened God to an expert watchmaker. He had created a Rolex of a universe and was now contentedly allowing his creation to run its course. The perfect and implacable laws of physics had freed him from the cares of creation — a visit to his celestial office would reveal a vacationing God “gone fishing.” This deistic notion of God is not the God we worship. Our God is an ever-present God, intimately concerned about his children. He has not forgotten about the world. He is not far away. He became man and even when his time came to leave this world, he devised a way to remain with us. Could God get any closer than being truly present within us through the Eucharist? He shows infinite intensity in the focus of his love. Anyone who threatens the sheep of this loving God does so at his own risk: “No one can take them out of the Father’s hand!”
- Knowing the Sheep: This loving Father has a Son who is the perfect reflection of his being: “The Father and I are one.” The Son is a shepherd whose love, like the Father’s, is intense and personal: “I know [my sheep].” Human categories don’t do the divine reality justice. The human shepherd, after all, would be hard pressed to think of his sheep as individuals. When he looks at them, he sees a flock. When he speaks about them, the same word “sheep” will work both as singular and plural. But Jesus is the Shepherd unlike any human shepherd, just as his Father is the Creator unlike any human watchmaker. For Jesus, each sheep is an individual, loved with a unique love. When you come to Christ, you don’t need to wear a nametag. He knows your name!
- Doing Our Part: If Jesus is the Shepherd unlike any human shepherd, we should be sheep unlike any typical wool-covered mammals. Their ardor for the next tuft of grass is such that the voice of the shepherd hardly suffices to keep them in the flock. Barking dogs are an essential element to good flock maintenance. But Christ’s sheep don’t need that kind of coercion. In prayer we “hear [his] voice.” May we never tire of belonging to the blessed flock of Christ! May we always listen and heed his voice.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are my Shepherd. With you, there is nothing I shall want. I will always keep my eyes fixed on your rod and staff. My courage will never falter if you are at my side.
Resolution: I will show spiritual leadership in my family today.