Fr. Chas Kestermeier, S.J.
Reflections for Bulletin of Parish in Singapore
Fr. Kestermeier, S.J. was asked to write periodic Sunday reflections for
the parish bulletin for a Parish in Singapore and he has shared them with us.
Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C) (May 12, 2019)
Psalm response: My sheep hear my voice.
Jesus calls Himself a shepherd here, and we might look at part (and it really is only a part) of what that means. As shepherd, Jesus makes Himself responsible for our welfare and commits Himself to a constant concern for us; at the same time He cannot force us to follow Him, and He will not force feed us.
From the other side, what is it that we want from Him in our role as sheep? We hunger, but for what? The first thing that comes to mind is an end to our loneliness. The Irish are supposed to have come up with the insightful words “Love me if you can, hate me if you must, but for God's sake don't ignore me,” which we might deepen a little to be the heart's cry “See me, know me, love me.”
That finding and accepting that we are both known and loved is the deepest need we have; consider how little children need to be held and to feel the embrace of that human warmth. We also feel a need for a sense of direction in our lives, though, and that crippling lack of such a goal or such motivation is extremely clear in the lives of so many young people today. We need as well to make the "right" (i.e. life-giving) choices, and we yearn for security, but going most deeply into our hearts we find that need to be loved, which somewhat subsumes all the other needs, and in that hunger we must discover a need to love in return.
Christ's response to our needs is not primarily a program of ideas, it is His humble Self, a God willing to become human (Philippians 2:6-11) so that He can be up close to us and show us personally and in our human way what His love is like and how we can and must become like Him in our own love if we wish to have our needs quieted, our hungers satisfied. As a human being Jesus has, after all, the same needs that we do and has them filled in His Father's presence to Him, in the Spirit's always directing and energizing Him. As a full human being, though, Christ goes beyond that self-completion to make us His needs: He yearns inexpressibly to end our loneliness, to be our Way and our Truth and our Life. Look at Jesus' words at the Last Supper in John to see what He has to say about this (chapters 13-17).
Christ comes to us as a person, humble, familiar with our woes and our joys, and it is on that same level that we relate to Him in the most basic way. We must look upon Him, meditate on Him and His values and actions, and seek to share what we find in that relationship in the ultimate praise we offer by putting all our energy and imagination into imitating in our own lives all that we see in Him. Here we would think especially of becoming shepherds in our own right, taking care of those around us to the best of our ability and doing so out of love, without caring whether those people “deserve” our love and service or not: Jesus never seems to have asked in any serious way whether someone deserved His love (think of his exchange with the Syro-Phoenician woman, Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30).
If you can find a quiet time and place, reread John 13-17 or even John's chapter 10, the basis for today's Gospel reading.
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