Sunday, May 7, 2017

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter - Feeding the Sheep

I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, increase my faith so that I may hear your voice and follow you despite the cost. Lord, increase my love so that I will never “work for pay, with no concern for the sheep.”

Petition: Lord make me self-sacrificing and generous in charity

1. The Good Shepherd. As Christians we are all called to be the “good shepherd” for others in imitation of Christ, as opposed to the hired man who “works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” St. Augustine challenges us to be true to our call:  “Let us consider the unflattering words of God which Scripture addresses to shepherds who feed themselves and not the sheep. You consume their milk and cover yourselves with their wool; you kill the fatlings, but my sheep you do not pasture. You have failed to strengthen what was weak, to heal what was sick, and to bind up what was injured. You did not call back what went astray, nor seek out what was lost. What was strong you have destroyed, and my sheep have been scattered because there is no shepherd” (St. Augustine, On Pastors). 

2. Feeding the sheep. We are called to feed the sheep, to strengthen the weak, to heal the sick, to bind up the injured. Our Lord Jesus Christ did precisely that throughout his sojourn on earth. At the Last Supper, after washing the feet of the apostles, he said, “I have given you example, so that you may do what I have done.” Meditate on Christ as the good shepherd in the Gospel. How would Christ live your life today? 

3. Lay down your life for the sheep. Mother Teresa taught us to be good shepherds in the small occasions throughout the day, even when it hurts. “And so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other naturally we want to do something. … What we have done we should not have been able to do if you did not share with your prayers, with your gifts, this continual giving. But I don´t want you to give me from your abundance, I want that you give me until it hurts” (Mother Teresa, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, December 11, 1979 Oslo, Norway). 

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, you are the Good Shepherd who laid down your life for us. Only with your grace will I lay down my life and sacrifice myself for the good of others in each moment of my life.

Resolution: Lord, I will be another Christ for others today. 

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