May 9, 2022 – Christ Knows and Loves His Sheep
Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Father Michael Sliney, LC
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.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for your generosity and patience in being with me today. My only desire is to please you. My heart longs to be flooded with your grace so that I may fully accomplish your will in my life.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to know and love you.
1. Christ Knows Me: “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (Jn 10:3). For the Jewish people, to call someone by his name was to touch his deepest identity, his inner core. For them, a name reflected who you were; your meaning as a person. Although, as human beings, we are the fruit of our parent’s love, our soul was made and shaped directly by God. Christ made our souls! Christ knows our innermost selves. He knows not only our names, but he knows our thoughts, feelings, dreams and fears, and even our deepest desires. This fact should be a source of great peace and confidence in my prayer—Christ does truly know what is going on in my heart. But this knowledge is not all. Christ also loves me.
2. Christ Loves Me: Through his Incarnation, Christ emptied himself of his heavenly glory for me! What would life be like without the Mass, without the Eucharist, without confession, without the Gospel (where we discover the path to follow), without the Church and the teachings of the Magisterium? But there was a price, a terrible and costly price for all of these benefits. Christ was asked to pour out his blood on the cross for love of me. And now, Christ turns to each one of us without exception and asks us to do the same. He asks us to be witnesses of his love in a world of darkness and despair.
3. Christ Offers Me Life in Abundance: By accepting Christ as my Good Shepherd, I’m guaranteed to “find pasture.” For a sheep this means sufficient food, safety from predators and peaceful relationships with other sheep. Jesus promises life in abundance for those who accept him. Obviously, this “life in abundance” doesn’t mean material wealth and success. The food, safety and peace that he promises are spiritual but no less real. Do I value what he values? Do I truly hunger for spiritual food? Or do I hanker after superficial and vain matters that could never satisfy my soul? The joy Our Lord wishes to pour into my heart can be received only if I permit my heart to be detached and emptied of whatever keeps me from him. Jesus warns us that we cannot serve two masters.
Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Christ, for reminding me of your great love and my vocation to imitate your love. Help me not to get in your way. Help me not to be afraid of a life of generous service and self-giving to all the souls that you have entrusted to me.
Resolution: I will make some concrete commitment to increase both the quality and quantity of my Eucharistic life.