“MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE… THEY FOLLOW ME; AND I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE” (John 10:27-28)
📖Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5 (R.v.3c); Rev 7:9, 14b-17; John 20:27-30
🎤”MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE… THEY FOLLOW ME; AND I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE” (John 10:27-28)
Take a short trip back to the Old Testament. Most of the people that God appointed as leaders of Israel were professional shepherds: Jacob, Moses, David, etc. Apart from the fact that sometimes, sheep are stubborn and so need a man of patience, they are equally fragile and so need devoted protection. A good shepherd is always ready to lay down his life for the sake of his sheep (see 1 Sam 17:34-36). See how this attitude reflects the action of the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-6).
Today, known as the Good Shepherd Sunday, both the First Reading and the Gospel present Jesus as the one who grants eternal life to anyone who listens to his voice and follows him. Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch with this good news but the Jews there tried to oppose him, thus rejecting the message they came with. Can you see why St. Paul said, “Since… you judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life…” (cf. Acts 13:46). It means that the rejection of Jesus or the Gospel message is a rejection of eternal life.
On the other hand, the acceptance of Jesus and the Gospel message comes with a personal conviction that we are unshakable. Have you not noticed how free the lamb is normally in the presence of the mother or the sheep in the face of the shepherd? It normally feels secured and does not mind what happens elsewhere. That explains why the Apostles were bold enough to face the Jewish opposition squarely as in the First Reading.
In following Jesus, we are blessed with peace, progress and protection as the Apostles were. However, following him does not also exclude the cross and persecution. We can equally see that from opposition the disciples faced in the First Reading. One thing we are sure of is that no persecution can pull us down if we trust in the Lord. Can you not see that the persecution of Paul and Barnabas pushed the gospel to be extended also to the gentiles?
Are you passing through any opposition or persecution because of your faith in Christ? Do not look back! Jesus the Good Shepherd will never abandon you and instead of pulling you down, that opposition would cause you to rise above boards. Amen.
I pray that Christ may also fill you with joy and the Holy Spirit so that you might persevere till the end and then join the great multitude of those “who have come out of the great tribulation; [and] have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:), who shall be in want no more because the Lamb will be their Shepherd forever. Amen.