Acts 4: 8-12 – 1 John 3:1-2 – John 10: 11-19
Put in modern terms, what we heard from the brief passage of saint John’s letter might be expected to be heard from a “motivational speaker.” This is the tone that can be heard when he writes: “See what love father has bestowed on us by letting us be called children of God” The restoration and the reconciliation that has been achieved by the Resurrection of the Lord accomplishes a whole new relationship between God and humanity, between God and us. The recognition of this fact is the basis for the enthusiasm and the joy that John expresses.
The nature and the depth of this relationship is illustrated by Jesus in the Gospel. Jesus, as we heard, describer himself in this way: “I am the good shepherd. . .I know mine and mine know me.” The image of a shepherd is probably not all that familiar to us in our own experience. But to his listeners at that time it had much significance. But to “know” someone, as Jesus remarks is more common to us. Jesus is not speaking of some divine knowledge but of how we might “know” someone in our human experience, we can appreciate their thinking. We can anticipate their needs. We ca readily respond to their wants. It is an intimate knowledge which comes from a true bond. This is the nature of the relationship God seeks with us.
Not only does the shepherd know his sheep but, as Jesus states, the sheep him and recognize him. The sheep, like the followers of Jesus, are not the noblest of animals, but they are loyal and attached to the shepherd. The bond between them is mutual.
How, then, are we to appreciate and respond to the relationship God seeks with us that has been achieved for us in the Resurrection of the Lord and confirmed by us in the renewal of our Baptismal promises? An insight is provided to is the life of the early church as it is described to us in what we heard today from the Acts of the Apostles. The faith of the Apostles and the early Christians empowered them and gave them courage.. We hear of the freedom they experienced in knowing that they were no longer captive by failure or sin. Convinced of the loving relationship with God, life could be lived with a true sense of justice and peace toward all persons.
Because of the power of Christ’s graced presence in our lives we are empowered to love without limits. We are empowered to give of ourselves trusting in God’s mercy and to grow increasingly in our potential and ability to reflect god’s loving presence in our lives.
Assured of this loving relationship that our God seeks with so beautifully illustrated in the image of the Good Shepherd, our lives, our actions and our words can radiate the same enthusiasm and joy expressed by John in our faith and trust in our good and gracious God.