Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to remember that each and every one of us are members of this same one Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, belonging to the one Body of Christ, with Christ Himself as the Head, Who is also our Good Shepherd. We are the lambs of the Lord’s flock and we have been called from the world by the Lord and been reunited into this one flock by His guidance and help. And all that are made possible because of His ever enduring love for each one of us, without exception, that even the least of us, and the worst sinners amongst us are called by God to return to Him.
Brothers and sisters, all of us have been separated from God due to sin, and sin is caused by our refusal to obey the Lord and His will. We trust instead in our own human desires and judgments, and we tend to deviate from the path that God has set before us and hence, ended up falling deeper and deeper into the wrong path in life. Yet, God has always ever been patient in reaching out to us, in patiently calling upon us to embrace Him, His compassionate love and mercy, and to be reconciled once again with Him. He, our ever loving Good Shepherd has looked upon each and every one of us, the members of His flock, with love and compassion, with the desire to be reunited with us, as He does not want us to be lost to Him.
That is what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in the account of the Lord’s discourse to His disciples on the Good Shepherd. We heard the Lord referring to Himself as the Good Shepherd, and how He presaged what He would do Himself to save His flock, that by laying down His life, He has opened for us the path to salvation and eternal life with Him. He revealed to His disciples and hence also to all of us, through the Scriptures, how His love for each one of us is truly ever encompassing, ever present, and He would dedicate Himself to the Covenant He had made with all of us, protecting us and caring for us.
The Lord told all of us that as the Good Shepherd, He is not like that of the other hired men who were paid to look after the sheep, and did not know the sheep well. He made a comparison between what He would do and what those hired men did, as those hired men did not give themselves totally and wholeheartedly to the flock they were entrusted with, fleeing at the first sign of danger. Meanwhile, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, and that was what the Lord had done, our of His love for us, when He willingly accepted and shouldered upon Himself the many punishments due for our sins, and lead us all to Himself through His Cross.
For God so loved the world, that He gave us His only begotten Son, so that all those who believe in Him may not perish but have eternal life. Such was the other words the Lord had spoken in another occasion in the Gospels. He came into our midst through His Son, so that by His actions, in gathering us, scattered throughout the world, and He has also reached out to the lost ones, like those who had been branded as sinners and unworthy of God, people like the tax collectors, prostitutes and adulterers, as well as those who had been crippled or afflicted by many diseases, and those possessed by the evil spirits.
Through this, God as our Good Shepherd leads everyone, all sinners back to Himself. He was patient and welcoming even to the Pharisees and many of the teachers of the Law who had constantly disagreed with Him and refused to listen to Him or believe in His truth. The Good Shepherd was patient in going forth, in looking out for His lost sheep, that they may be found once again, and be reconciled fully with Him, and that they all will be worthy to enter into the kingdom of eternal glory and true happiness together with Him. However, as we are also reminded today, the works of the Lord are far from being completed.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of how St. Peter spoke to the Jewish Christian converts regarding the matter of the outreach and approach in evangelisation to the Gentiles or the non-Jewish people. Quite a few of those Jewish Christians had once belonged to the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were very particular in terms of their adherence to the Jewish customs and laws, such as the enforcement of circumcision, the food and dietary prohibitions of the Jewish laws and customs, which would have made it very difficult for the Gentiles to accept the Christian faith or to live as Christians meaningfully.
Hence, St. Peter enlightened those hard-hearted Jewish Christians with the revelation of how God Himself had made known His desire to him, through a vision that he had received regarding the matter, as he saw the vision of a great many food and animals that are considered unclean according to the Jewish laws and customs. Naturally St. Peter refused to eat when the Lord asked him to eat from those food, but God showed and asked him to listen to him three times, and saying that he should not consider what God had deemed to be clean as unclean. This vision, coupled with what St. Peter himself experienced in meeting Cornelius and the other non-Jewish people who were interested in the Christian faith and truth remind us that God truly calls everyone to be His followers, to be gathered and reconciled to Him.
As our Good Shepherd, the Lord wants each and every one of us to find our way back to Him, and He called us all to return to Him and tasked His Church, disciples and servants to bring His salvation to all of the lost sheep of His flock. St. Peter and the other Apostles hence worked hard to spread the word of God and His salvation among the Gentiles just as much as they were labouring amongst the Jewish community. Through them and their successors, many people had managed to find their way back to the Lord, returning to the Holy Mother Church, to God’s loving embrace and forgiving mercy.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have also been called to do the same in our own lives. We are all called to be the ones to lead others to the Lord and His salvation, and in order to do that, we are challenged to live our lives in the most worthy way we can, so that in all things, our lives will reflect the light of God’s truth and love, and inspire many more people to follow Him. Let us all reflect the love and compassion that Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Good Shepherd has shown us. May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us all through our journey of faith in life, now and always, leading us to the right path. Amen.