Homily for the 4th Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday)
“You will never be alone”
Dearly Beloved, welcome to the fourth Sunday of Easter. On this day, we are reminded that we are never alone, we have a shepherd; and not just a shepherd, but rather the “Good Shepherd.” Recently, I came across a story that I wish to share with you. “Once upon a time, a little boy was taking an evening walk with his father. Suddenly, they came across a faulty bridge which had a turbulent river flowing underneath it, but the framework of the bridge was shaking profusely. The father, sensing that the boy had become frightened, asked his son to let him grab a hold of him while they cross the bridge. The boy felt ‘so big’ and said, “no, Dad! I can hold onto you myself!”
The father was surprised at his answer and then tried to explain to him: “son, if you hold me and happened to miss a step, there is a possibility that you might let go of my hands and fall. However, if I hold you and you slip, I am strong enough, and I can still hold onto you until I get you to safe ground. That day the boy learned a great lesson of what is means to hold onto someone. Realizing the difference between one’s own strength and what it means to be allowed to be held by another who is powerful. It is equally the lesson for all of us today as we celebrate “Good Shepherd Sunday”.
Beloved, as we celebrate the Good Shepherd today, the Church, through the word of God reminds us that we have a Father who keeps us close and will never let us fall. He is indeed the Good Shepherd and not a paid worker. He gives His own life to save the sheep. He needs your faith and trust in realizing that He will always be who He said He is. Especially when you do not understand the many things happening all around you each day. The psalmist was right when he said:
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack …
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
Do you have such conviction in your Shepherd; do you have faith in your Father to keep you safe, even when the bridge you are walking on is not sturdy; even when the approaching water is turbulent? Are you holding onto Him or are you allowing Him to hold you?
The fact is, it is never enough to hold onto Him, but it is everything to allow Him to hold you. This is one of the difficult things that many “good Christians” fail at understanding. Allowing ourselves to be held instead of us doing the holding. At times we tend to know and understand too much to allow Him to hold us or rather, we really know too little of what His will is for us and seek to control rather than letting Him take a hold of us and any situation we may be facing.
Holding onto Him gives you so much control to determine how things should be. Many of us are more comfortable with this kind of spiritual arrangement. It serves us well, and our Christian identity is understood in the manner in which it suits us. Clearly, that is not the life we are called to. The life we are called to is the life of Christ Himself, who gave up everything He could have held onto as the Son of God, and would not have suffered and died. But as scripture says:
6 though He was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.[d]
7 Rather, He emptied Himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;[e]
and found human in appearance,
8 he humbled Himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Dear friends, our Shepherd is reminding us today that life and its events may become hard for us to bear, but take comfort and have confidence in His power to take hold of us. That is, as much as we will allow Him to hold us. We have to trust that He is in control of our affairs; so far us we do not hold back and doubt, He will always be there to hold us firmly in His grasp. Happy are we, who have found such a shepherd in Christ, the Good Shepherd.