Abundant life…for all!
Today’s Gospel highlights Jesus as "shepherd", caring for the sheep of his flock. The shepherd’s care results in life for all the sheep…and not just basic living, but life in abundance!
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts Peter proclaiming this message of Jesus as Savior of all people, even the Gentiles! In the early Church it was first taken for granted that Christianity was for Jewish people only; thus when some Gentiles converted and "joined the sheepfold", objections were raised. Peter explained the vision he had of a large sheet being lowered from the sky with all sorts of animals in it…and he being encouraged to slaughter and eat them; a voice from heaven reminded him that all animals are clean; no one can hinder God’s love for all people, the sheep of His flock. Peter’s preaching changed the reluctant hearts, and objections ceased — and God was glorified.
We struggle today with issues of immigration, refugees, health, peace, the just sharing of the world’s resources, etc. Prominent world figures fall on both sides of these ageless issues, presenting all sorts of reasons. Those struggling today share in the Passion of Jesus in a very special manner. And Jesus, Good Shepherd, again says He cares for all the sheep, and invites us His followers to live and promote that same life-giving message. God’s Shepherd-Love, manifested in Jesus Crucified, is rich, deep, and unconditional, all-inclusive.
As Easter People, may the dynamism of Jesus Risen encourage us to reach out to all people with Jesus’ message of a shepherd’s love for all members of the flock…Life in abundance!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.