Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of our Christian obligation and responsibility to be the witnesses of the Good Shepherd, Our Lord, in the midst of our communities, and to be exemplary in our living and faith that we may indeed be good role models and examples in each of our words, actions and deeds, that we truly lead more and more people towards the Lord, to His salvation and grace.
Today we heard the continuation of yesterday’s discourse on Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd, from the Good Shepherd Sunday. The Lord has revealed Himself as the Good Shepherd and presented Himself as the One Who would shepherd the flock of His people, Israel and more. He would not only seek the lost sheep among the Israelites but also from all the rest of mankind, all equally beloved by Him, and all equally treasured, especially the ones who have been lost and separated from Him.
That is why, the Lord gave His all in reaching out to us, as He wants us to be reconciled to God through Him. By incarnating in the flesh, and by dwelling among us, the Saviour both Man and Divine, Christ has become the tangible and approachable expression of God’s love. As I mentioned in yesterday’s homily, we are all the sheep of the Lord’s flock and we belong to Him, yet, it is thanks to Christ that we have found our Shepherd, the One Who leads us to the right paths.
As I mentioned, as sheep we belong to the Lord, but without Christ as our Shepherd, we can lose our way and be trapped in dangerous traps of sin and darkness of this world. That is why it is important that we listen to the Lord as He calls on us, as our Shepherd, calling on us the lost sheep to return to Him. And He sent His servants, the Apostles and their successors, who are our bishops and the priests, to be shepherds in His own mould, that through them many more people and many more souls may be saved.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today we heard St. Peter speaking to the assembled faithful and the elders among the Christian community, the Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord. St. Peter spoke to them regarding the opposition showed by some among the Jewish converts in the community, who criticised St. Peter and what he had done, as he visited the house of a Gentile or non-Jew, which was abhorred and disliked by those among the Jews who were more conservative in their ways. Those Jewish converts were likely those belonging to this faction, members of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who brought their own old ideology and way of thinking.
However, St. Peter revealed to all those gathered how the Lord wanted them to change their mindset, that they should be willing to listen to the Lord and His true intention and desire to love all of us mankind, all equally beloved by God and not just those of the chosen race of Israel only. Through St. Peter, God made this intention clear as He showed the Apostle in a vision of all sorts of food considered ‘unclean’ by the Jewish laws, which he rejected only for the Lord to tell him that what God has considered as ‘clean’ one must not consider as ‘unclean’.
This is what God meant when He told St. Peter and then the other disciples, of His ever encompassing love and kindness, His compassion and mercy, that He wants to give to all the children of mankind. He is sending His disciples to all the peoples of all the nations, to be His witnesses and to be the bearers of His light and truth to all of them. And He reiterated this in the Gospel passage today, as He spoke that He as the Good Shepherd is sent to lead all of the flock of God’s faithful, and that there are still yet other sheep that is not of this fold, referring to the Gentiles whom He was also calling to seek Him, the Good Shepherd of all, that they may find salvation through Him.
That is why, as Christians all of us are called to be the faithful and loving bearers of God’s love, His light and truth in the midst of our communities in today’s world. We must not allow ourselves to be exclusive and elitist in our outlook of faith, in thinking that we alone are worthy of God’s grace and love, as the Jewish converts who once opposed St. Peter had done. Instead, we should be willing to reach out and to open our hearts and minds to welcome all peoples, of all origins and nationalities, all equally beloved by God, our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, Jesus Christ.
And as Christians we are also called to be exemplary in the way we live our lives with faith. We should be good examples and inspiration for everyone in even the small things we do, so that we too may be ‘shepherds’ and guides for each other. Each and every one of us through our common baptism share in this mission that the Lord has entrusted to us, to make disciples of all the peoples of all the nations, and to baptise all in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through us, our faithful and exemplary life, and whatever contribution we can make, we are crucial and integral part of the Church’s efforts to reach out to the people of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore seek the Lord with a renewed faith and courage, entrusting ourselves to Him as His Apostles had done, to be like our Good Shepherd and to be faithful shepherds and guides to one another as part of our Christian calling and commitment. Let us all help each other in our journey of faith and support one another, particularly supporting and praying for our priests and all the leaders of the Church that they may always be faithful in their ministry as shepherds appointed in the mould of the one and true Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless us all and may He give us all the strength to carry on living faithfully each and every days of our lives, that through us God may do ever more wonderful works and deeds in our world. May He remain with us and be with us always. Amen.