Reflection for 4th Sunday of Easter, 2024 Year B

Reflection for 4th Sunday of Easter, 2024 Year B

Apr 24, 2024 | Reflections

Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday and a special day of prayer for Vocations. In the Gospel Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.  

In Sunday’s first reading St Peter had caused a stir in Jerusalem with the miraculous cure of the crippled beggar at the entrance to the Temple. This healing was done by St Peter in the name of the crucified and risen Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit Peter and other Apostles now have boundless confidence in the name of Jesus. Called before the High Priest and Jewish Elders, St Peter takes the opportunity to boldly testify to the crucified and risen Christ. The One they crucified is now the cornerstone and it is in His name and no other name under Heaven by which we can be saved. As Jesus had said:

no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

The second reading reminds us that Jesus laid down his life for us, in order to open Heaven and restore us to a graced relationship with God. Through Baptism we are now adopted children of God. Each of us has been bought and paid for with the Blood of Christ.

In the Gospel Jesus reveals his tender love and affection for each of us as the Good Shepherd. He never deserts His sheep, and it is through His wounds, that we are healed. The early Christians had a special affection for the image of the Good Shepherd. There are many images of the Good Shepherd in the catacombs of Rome, and on  ancient and well-known buildings. These include murals, reliefs, gravestone etchings, mosaics and sculptures.

Jesus, the tender and merciful Shepherd of our souls, has established the Church with a hierarchical structure which includes a Visible Head or Pope, together with Bishops and Priests to govern, teach the Faith, offer the Daily Sacrifice of the Mass and administer the Sacraments to the faithful. Through the word of God and Sacraments, Jesus ensures that His flock is spiritually nourished.

However, the times in which we are living are times of immorality and a general confusion. The spirit of lust has been poured out upon the world and there has been a sustained attack on the sacredness of human life and the family through contraception, pornography, abortion, gender ideology, no-fault divorce and much impurity especially through the television and internet. The youth have had to grow up in the midst of a moral pollution and often suffer from confusion and disorientation. Confusion,  has also entered into the Church. Pope St Paul VI said:

the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.

Many ideologies have crept into the Church over past decades and led to a crisis of faith or apostasy, where the vast majority of Catholics no longer attend Sunday Mass. Although the Passion of Christ is being relived by the Church of today, and even though it may even appear to die, there will always be a faithful remnant and the Church will rise again more resplendent than ever, because Christ is the Cornerstone and He cannot be destroyed.

The Eucharist is one of the great proofs of the Good Shepherd’s faithful presence through all the ups and downs of twenty centuries. This reminds me of a true story. Fr Meehus was working in a small town in rural China during the Sino-Japanese war. As Japanese soldiers neared the town, the Priest led his congregation of orphans into hiding in the nearby hills. Safe in a cave, he counted eighty children, all were there. Then one of the boys spoke up: Father Someone is missing. Fr Meehus counted again, eighty children, and he asked the boy: who is missing? The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, replied the boy.  Father moaned, in his rush to escape he had forgotten to bring the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle. He made a quick decision. He had the children smear him with mud, telling them that he was going to be commando, which they thought was fun. He then managed to slip through enemy lines and crept into the Church and tip-toed to the Tabernacle. He was praying to the Lord: You won’t recognize me, but I held You in my hands, many mornings at Mass. He heard Jesus answer him:

Of course I recognize you; I am in disguise too. A lot of people don’t recognize Me either, but I am your Friend and Good Shepherd who hold you in My Hands from morning until night.

When the soldiers left, the Priest and his congregation carried Jesus in a triumphant procession back to the Tabernacle.

When we are finding it hard to trust in God, a glance at the Eucharist, the sign of God’s faithfulness, can make all the difference. Jesus is with us until to the end of time, above all present in the greatest degree, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. At the Divine Mercy Shrine in Lower Chittering, we have Public Adoration on the Main Altar from the end of 3.30pm Mass, Monday to Friday until 9pm at night. Personal Adoration is also available in our Adoration Chapel 24/7 by opening the window of the Tabernacle and closing it upon leaving. (for details contact Fr Paul on 9571 8068).

One of the most fruitful things we can do to grow in our Faith is Eucharistic Adoration. In Adoration we go heart to Heart with our Good Shepherd and King. Great graces are given to those who do Adoration. Jesus longs to pour out His Love, but few open themselves to receive. This saddens the Lord. St Teresa of Calcutta and her nuns spent an hour in Adoration every morning before carrying out their work of attending to the poor and sick. This gave them the strength and peace to do this difficult work. Think about including a Holy Hour into your daily regime and God will reward you abundantly and give you the time back in different ways. Remember also, the importance of Confession. If one has fallen into serious sin, sacramental Confession is necessary before receiving Holy Communion. Sin deforms the soul, but Mercy and healing await us in Confession. God is restless in wanting to pour out His graces. Let’s  correspond and the more we correspond the more grace we receive and to those who have, even more will be given.

Praise be Jesus our tender and merciful Shepherd, now and forever!

In spite of everything though and even if the Church appears to die, this cannot happen. It can never be destroyed because Christ is the cornerstone. So there will always be a faithful remnant to preserve the Faith.