Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A

Christopher A. Drennan, O.S.A.
Malvern Preparatory School
Malvern, Pennsylvania

Readings
Acts 2: 14a, 36-41
Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
1 Pt 2: 20b-25
Jn 10: 1-10

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” We have heard for ever that Jesus came to save us from our sins, but we cannot forget that that salvation includes having an abundant life. We need to keep focused on the goal of our salvation: LIFE, and ABUNDANT life! So often we are satisfied with just getting through life, and making it through the day, but there is much more! There is a joy and a freedom that comes with salvation and faith that we can easily miss if we do not keep our eyes on the abundant life that Jesus promises us.

Jesus is the Way to this abundant life. He is the Gate through which we the sheep must pass. We cannot do it ourselves. He is the gate, the gatekeeper, and the Shepherd who guides us to the green pastures. He does not want us to do it alone, he wants to be our guide. It is when we open our hearts and minds to the presence of the Spirit of Jesus deep within us that we find an inner compass that will direct us toward our abundant life.

I have a friend who spent some time as a farmer on a small family farm. He decided he would try shepherding some sheep. It didn’t last too long. It is a challenge being a shepherd. Sheep and especially lambs can get lost and get stuck in the brambles and bushes. They become upset without the flock around them. They are lost, but the shepherd knows his sheep and goes out of his way to find them and set them free. This reminded me of the regular image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. My farmer friend would laugh when I told him this. The gentle lamb over the shoulders of the shepherd is not the reality for lambs who are lost and frightened. They are dirty, smelly animals who kick and squirm and want to get back into the flock. But the shepherd must hold on tight and get them through the brambles and back to their family.

Jesus is like my farmer friend who never gives up. He gave up everything for us, even when we are lost and caught up in the brambles of sin and life in general. We might not be pleasant to Jesus when he lifts us up and carries us home. We might be kicking and calling out and we do not always smell good, either! But Jesus doesn’t care. He continues to guide us, call us, calm us down and bring us safely home.

Jesus the Good Shepherd is always there for us. It is not easy. It was not easy for him to suffer and to give us eternal life. He sacrificed everything so that we would be set free and have abundant life. He suffered and died and sacrificed it all so that we would have a Way to salvation. When we feel lost or caught in brambles, or dirty or smelly and unloved, we need to look around and listen to the voice of the one who has loved us. That voice is all around in the communities we are part of, in family and friends and church and even in the scriptures and the Eucharist. We are not alone. We are not totally lost, we are just stuck. Listen to his voice. Get to know the Gate of the Way to abundant life. We will not be disappointed. We will be saved. We will find an abundant life.