POPE FRANCIS 2021 REFLECTION GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY YEAR B
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 25 April 2021
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, called Good Shepherd Sunday, the Gospel (Jn 10:11-18) presents Jesus as the true shepherd who defends, knows and loves his sheep.
The “mercenary” is the opposite of the Good Shepherd, the one who does not care about the sheep because they are not his. He does the job only for pay and is not concerned about defending them: when a wolf arrives, he flees and abandons them (cf vv. 12-13). Instead, Jesus, the true shepherd, defends us always and saves us from so many difficult situations, dangerous situations through the light of his word and the strength of his presence that we always experience if we want to listen, every day.
The second aspect is that Jesus, the good shepherd, knows – the first aspect: defend; the second: he knows his sheep and the sheep know Him (v. 14). How beautiful and consoling it is to know that Jesus knows us one by one, that we are not unknown to Him, that our name is known to him! We are not a “mass”, a “multitude” for Him, no. We are unique individuals, each with his or her own story, he knows us with our own story, each with his or her own value, both because they have been created and have been redeemed by Christ. Each of us can say: Jesus, knows me! Each one of us: Jesus knows me! It is true, it is like this: He knows us like no other. Only He knows what is in our hearts, our intentions, our most hidden feelings. Jesus knows our strengths and our defects, and is always ready to care for us, to heal the wounds of our errors with the abundance of his mercy. In Him, the image the prophets had provided of the shepherd of the people of God is completely fulfilled: Jesus is concerned about his sheep, he gathers them, he binds their wounds, he heals their ailments. We can read this in Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (cf Ez 34:11-16).
Therefore, Jesus the Good Shepherd defends, knows, and above all loves his sheep. And this is why He gives His life for them (cf Jn 10:15). Love for his sheep, that is, for each one of us, would lead him to die on the cross. For this is the Father’s will – that no one should be lost. Christ’s love is not selective; it embraces everyone. He Himself reminds us of this in today’s Gospel when he says: “And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). These words testify to his universal concern: He is everyone’s shepherd. Jesus wants everyone to be able to receive the Father’s love and encounter God.
And the Church is called to carry on this mission of Christ. Beyond those who participate in our communities, there is the majority, many people, who do so only at particular moments or never. But this does not mean they are not God’s children: the Father entrusts everyone to Jesus the Good Shepherd, and he gave his life for everyone.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus defends, knows and loves us, everyone. May Mary Most Holy help us to be the first to welcome and follow the Good Shepherd, to cooperate in the joy of his mission.
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