Reflection for Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A 2023

   If Jesus were preaching today, he probably would not talk to most audiences about sheep and the Good Shepherd. The stories he told to illustrate his teaching were tailor-made for the people who heard him. Unlike most people in our industrialized, urban society, those to whom Jesus spoke knew all about the sheep and shepherds. No one had to explain to them what a sheepfold was or the function of a gatekeeper in following access only to authorized Shepherds.
         They  lived in a large rural, agrarian society. Their world was simply  what they saw: the sun coming  in the East and setting in the West, the moon and stars as points of light in the night sky. They had never heard of automobiles, airplanes, radios, television or telephones… nor did they realize that the earth was a whirling globe revolving around a sun which was a star like many others in one of many galaxies.
          The point of Jesus’ story is that he is the one we must trust. He is the teacher whom God has sent into the world to instruct God’s children  about the divine plan for their salvation. He will lead us into eternal life and protect us from all harm, even if he must sacrifice his own human life to do it. That message is just as pertinent today as it was two thousand years ago, even though the language is different.
          It was precisely for this reason that Jesus established his Church and commissioned Peter and the other Apostles to proclaim his message to the whole world. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus left as his legacy, these apostles preached the word of the Lord to the people of their generation.
         These successors of the apostles often lived with people far different from those with whom Jesus lived. It was their task to interpret the word of God in appropriate ways to these new cultures. They had to express the message of Jesus in terms which the people could understand. In many instances it was necessary to adapt the specific application of the message using completely different circumstances.
             Modern inventions and the progress of science have changed our way of life and our understanding of the world in which we live. But the message of Jesus has not changed. It is still a message of love and hope. We can think of Jesus as a Good Shepherd leading his flock to pasture or as a good teacher protecting the children and helping them learn. What we must understand , however, is the reality underlying these figures of speech. We must come to know and trust Jesus as the Son of God who has come to lead us away from sin and into the eternal happiness of God’s love.
May God bless you all.
Fr. Dominic
Your brother in Christ.