Sunday Gospel Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Good Shepherd’s Sacrificial Love
Christian Laurence E. Aquino
Ministry of Lectors and Commentators
The Gospel today always reminds me of my first Holy Communion many years ago. I was asked to sing the Responsorial Psalm and it was the famous Psalm 23 in Tagalog. We fondly know how the lyrics of the song goes: “Ang Panginoon ang aking pastol, pinagiginhawa akong lubos.” While it is not the same psalm we recite today on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, this makes great reference to our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd reminds us of His brand of sacrificial love. The Good Shepherd is willing to lay down His life for His flock. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the Friday of the Paschal Triduum is termed Good Friday, because it commemorates the Good Shepherd’s ultimate act of perfect sacrificial love, a love that finds its fulfilment in the Resurrection.
Recently, we have seen the proliferation of community pantries across the country which started as a small initiative in Maginhawa. I believe that the organizers of community pantries today are emulating a form of sacrificial love especially for the poor. They face the risks of being red-tagged and of being accused of agitating the people and inciting them to rebel, when all they genuinely want to do is to help people in need, to feed the hungry. Indeed, the wolves are around, ready to sow fear.
I dare say that these good-hearted people’s initiative is a form of sacrificial love because despite knowing that their lives may be in danger, they persevere with their good deeds for the sake of others. Peter and his companions, in the First Reading, also experienced something similar. Weren’t they interrogated by insecure leaders and elders because of a good deed they did for a cripple? Weren’t they also, to some extent, “profiled” and asked who was behind all this?
Dear friends, love of God and love of neighbor inevitably requires sacrifice, and in the process, we may have doubts and fears. But if we want to truly emulate the example of the Good Shepherd, then we must freely and truly embrace that love demands sacrifice, that love is selfless, just as the Good Shepherd goes out of His way to find just one lost sheep, and even lays down His life for His flock.
For the times that we are not able to love sacrificially because we hesitate, may we let Jesus’ sacrificial love move us to persevere in doing good, even if we meet “wolves” along the way. When we allow ourselves to be shepherded by the Good Shepherd, we also become shepherds to others. As the psalm goes, “Madilim na lambak man ang tatahakin ko, wala akong sindak, siya’y kasama ko. Ang hawak niyang tungkod, ang siyang gabay ko. Hawak niyang pamalo, sigla’t tanggulan ko.”
A blessed Good Shepherd Sunday to all!