May 4, 2020 – 4th Week of Easter

“Leaning closer to the Heart of our Divine Lord, knowing that each one of us is precious and special to Him, and thus, becoming a good shepherd, imitating the Great Good Shepherd!”

(Based on Acts 11:1-18 and Jn 10:11-18)

A story is told of an official who was going around house-to-house, collecting data and statistics for the Census.

As he moved from one place to another, he came to a particular house, which was located high up in the mountains.
This was a poor family and the house was in a deplorable state.

The official approached the mother of the family, who was just outside the house, cleaning the premises.

Picking up the census form to be filled up, he asked the mother, “How many dependents do you have?”
“Well, there is Rosie, and Billy, and Lucia, Susie, Harry, and Jeffrey. There’s Johnny, and Harvey, and our dog, Willie and the cute little kitten Daisy!”

“Umm…excuse me, Ma’am”, interrupted the census-official, “that’s not necessary! I only need the humans”

“Ah!” she said, “Sorry about that! Well, there is Rosie, and Billy, and Lucia, Susie, Harry, and Jeffrey…”
But once again, the official cut short her words and said, a bit irritatingly, “No Ma’am! You don’t seem to understand! I don’t need their names. All I want is just the numbers!”
“Ah!” said the lady, surprisingly, “Sorry to tell again… but I don’t know them by numbers! I know them only by names!”

The members of the family were not considered in terms of numbers, but were valued by their names!

Each one in the house was special.
Each one of them was precious.

The Gospel of the Day echoes this similar melody of each one of us being “valuable and precious”, to Jesus, the Great Good Shepherd!
“I am the Good Shepherd” says the Lord, “I know mine and mine know Me” (Jn 10: 14)

The illustration of Jesus as the Shepherd is certainly one of the most endearing, popular and loved image in the whole of the Gospels.

Undoubtedly, one of the most popular and loved Psalms is Psalm 23 – the Psalm of the Good Shepherd.

The picture of Jesus, the Good Shepherd that immediately comes to our mind, is usually that of Jesus, holding a little lamb in His sturdy hands…
… or of Jesus, the Shepherd trudging through the grasslands with many sheep, following and walking with Him, happily bouncing and frolicking.

As we enjoy and bask in the joy of this image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, it is apt that we also meditate and reflect on some dimensions of the Heart of this Divine Shepherd…

  1. Each sheep is extremely personal, unique and precious to the Divine Shepherd’s Heart

The Good Shepherd has a very large number of sheep in His flock.
Yet each of us is uniquely important for Him

He loves each one!
He treasures each one!

  1. The Divine Shepherd’s Heart is willing to make any sacrifice, even His life

Unlike a hired hand, the Divine Shepherd has a tremendous sense of responsibility and attached to His sheep.

This makes Him to undergo any pain, any suffering, any sacrifice for the sake of His beloved sheep.. even to the point of laying down His life.

  1. The Divine Shepherd’s Heart longs to bring back the ones which have strayed

The Divine Shepherd is aware of many sheep that are not yet part of His fold.

He longs for them…
He seeks to bring them to Him…
He yearns to make them part of His fold…

We are invited to deepen this our understanding of the Heart of the Divine Shepherd.

At the same time, we are also challenged to possess Heart, resembling that of the Divine Shepherd…

Do I have a heart that treasures and values each person that has been entrusted to my care…

Nurturing them, being responsible for them, appreciating and encouraging them…
Leading them to the pastures of holiness and the flowing waters of grace and mercy…

Do I have a heart that is willing to offer sacrifices for the ones entrusted to my care…

Making minor adjustments to help others…
Giving up certain comforts to reach out to the needy…
Foregoing personal luxuries to become a light to a person in darkness…

Do I have a heart that yearns to bring back the ones who have strayed away from the right path…

Those who have lost the focus in life
Those who are staying away from the Church and Her Precious Sacraments
Those who have addicted themselves to many vices and bad pleasures of life

The Church needs shepherds, after the Heart of the Great Shepherd.

St Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, was made to understand the need to reach out the Good News of the Lord, even to the Gentiles… and make no distinction, in disseminating God’s Free Gift of Salvation to all!

The Great Shepherd constantly invites us all to give heed to His voice…
… and if necessary, to even correct ourselves so that we can be on the right path.

Often time, many of us, as shepherds go astray….
… failing to cater to the needs of the sheep
… failing to be faithful and honest to their vocation
… failing to be available and willing to forego personal comforts.

May each of us, lean closer to the Heart of our Divine Lord, knowing that each one of us precious and special to Him…
… resting in the bosom of His Presence
… feeding from the Food He offers in the Holy Eucharist
… attuning ourselves more to Him by listening to His Holy Word
And thus, becoming a good shepherd, according to the Heart of the Great Good Shepherd!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “I am only a weak man, subject to passion; but by the grace of God, since I have been a shepherd, I have never let myself be carried away and uttered angry words against my flock!”

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