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Lent,6th S,April10,11

Lent,6thS,April 10,11

Lent 6th S, April 10,11

(Jn.10:11-18)

We are gathered today under the shadow of the passing away of our beloved Major Archbishop, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil.

To all those who knew him, he was a man of inestimable love and openness. The concern and sensitivity he showed to the people who visited him are unmatchable. Through his words and actions he brought the love of Jesus to heal and comfort every one who felt hurt and put down. The transparency and openness he exhibited in his life can never be forgotten. Words of love and concern tumbled down from his lips. His monastic simplicity and loving concern were evident to every one who came into contact with him. He was a genuine shepherd to his people.

Today as we reflect on the words of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, we can find a good example of that shepherding in the life of our Major Archbishop.

God as a Shepherd is a concept that is familiar to every Jewish heart. Jesus in today’s Gospel evokes all those loving and comforting images when He tells his listeners that he is the Good Shepherd and he would lay down his life for the sheep. It is not just green pastures and water that he is offering. He is offering Himself and all that is implied by that sacrifice.

The Israelites were very familiar with the lives of shepherds and they were aware that a real shepherd would recognize his sheep and the sheep would also recognize his voice. It was a custom in those days for sheep belonging to different shepherds to be enclosed together in one pen. Each shepherd would call his sheep and the sheep would recognize his voice and go out with him. Using that image, Jesus reminds his listeners that He is close to His followers and that He would sacrifice his life for them.

This parable of the Good Shepherd gives us hints of the warmth of the love that Jesus has for his followers.

Jesus is our Savior and He will guide us through the right paths. He will protect us from our enemies. He will comfort us in our troubled times. He will be with us in our most vulnerable moments. He will carry us in his arms when it is difficult for us to walk the paths of life. His love will always envelop us.

During the season of Lent, we become very much aware of the suffering and death of Jesus for our salvation. We become once more reminded of the immense love that Jesus has for each one of us. He will never abandon us and will always be with us in the darkest moments of our lives.

The parable also is a reminder to each one of us to become good shepherds to our neighbors. We are given different tasks in our lives. We interact with so many people in our lives. We can be distinctively different in those daily interactions. We can pour the oil of love and comfort into our dealings with people. To be a caring husband, a loving father, or a sensitive administrator is something that we can do in our lives. People will recognize then that we are different.

Can we be good shepherds to the people who are entrusted to our care? There is a beautiful novel written by Tony Hendra called, ”Father Joe: the Man Who Saved My Soul.” Fr. Joe, a Benedictine Monk was the constant in his life during all the troubled times of his life. When his marriage failed and when he became a failure in his journalistic profession as well as in personal life, he went to Fr. Joe asking him the permission to join the monastery. Joe told him to go back and become a better husband and a better father to his children.

Yes, we can be good shepherds. Our family life and our life in the community will undergo a sea change if we can turn out to be loving and caring to those who are entrusted to our care.

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