Jesus is the Good Shepherd who came that we may have life

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

The TV is my shepherd I shall not want,
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith,
It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake.
Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,
There will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote control, they comfort me
It prepares a commercial for me in the midst of my worldliness
And anoints my head with secular humanism and consumerism.
My covetousness runs over;
Surely ignorance and laziness shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.

(I heard this parody on Psalm 23 in a homily broadcast on EWTN on March 18 2002)

What a dreadful way to live, living in a way that leads to death. But there is another way to live:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
He refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths
For his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage. (Ps 23:1-4)

That is a beautiful way to live, a way that leads to life, peace and true happiness. Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that he came precisely so that may live with that life, peace and happiness described in Psalm 23,

I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

As we listen to these words of Jesus in today’s Gospel they take on added meaning because we are in the Easter season. We have celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus had to die to himself to live his new life. Jesus has shown us how to live life to the fullest, we must die to ourselves in order to rise to new life. Our secularized world thinks it has the answer to our needs but what it offers only leads us into deeper despair. As that parody on Psalm 23 states,

It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the path of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake...
And I shall dwell in the house of wretchedness watching TV forever.

We could apply the following words of Jesus today to the false notions of happiness offered to us by the world today,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10)

Only dying to ourselves as we follow Jesus will lead us to the happiness we seek. Jesus teaches us that the way to happiness lies not in filling up each of our wants and needs and desires. The way to happiness lies in a very different choice of life; the way to happiness may be found in sacrificing and taking up our cross with Jesus, reproducing the life of Jesus in our own lives. And so Jesus says,

I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture… (John 10:9)

I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Pope John Paul encouraged people many times to find life to the full by following Jesus as he said words like this, “Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ…” In Palestine the shepherd brought the sheep into the sheepfold every night. It was a circular stone wall with an opening or door where the sheep entered. Once the sheep were inside for the night the shepherd slept in that opening or door all night. The sheep could not get out without stepping over the shepherd’s body which meant they would not get out at all during the night. Jesus is the gate, anyone who enters through him will be safe, and will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. Others steal and kill and destroy but Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

As we contemplate Jesus the Good Shepherd today Pope John Paul II declared the fourth Sunday of Easter a Day of Prayer for Vocations. We pray that many may listen to the voice of Jesus as he calls, that they may enter the sheepfold through him and be safe and have life and live it to the fullest.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More material for the Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A

See Vocations Sunday in Years A, B and C

Related Homilies: Jesus the Good Shepherd carries us and lays down his life for us

The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want 2012