Sunday, April 21, 2024

The fourth Sunday OF EASTER

During this never-ending election season, candidates have one top priority: They want to win.


That priority drives candidates to publish position papers, make speeches, run television and radio ads, establish a social media presence, interact with voters, engage in debates, etc. Candidates are driven to expend all their time, energy, and resources to succeed.


But it is not only political candidates that are driven by their top priority. We all are. Whatever we make our top priority, that priority guides our decisions, affects how we live, influences our relationships, and determines where we allot our time, attention, and money.


Jesus also had a central priority that influenced his life and ministry—it was to carry out the will of his heavenly Father. As Jesus said, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (John 6:38).


Doing the will of the Father led Jesus to proclaim the kingdom of God, to preach the Gospel, to forgive sinners, to heal the sick, to embrace the outcast, and to call people to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind and to love their neighbor.


That priority motivated Jesus to be concerned for all the people he was sent to serve. For as he said, “This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me” (John 6:39).


In Sunday’s Gospel (John 10:11-18), Jesus chose the image of the “good shepherd” to describe himself—the good shepherd concerned for all the sheep that the Father had placed in his care.


Jesus was the shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for the sake of his sheep. He was not like “a hired man, who … sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away … because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.”


On the cross, Jesus demonstrated his absolute concern for his sheep. He laid down his life so they might be saved from the “wolf” of sin and death that had been attacking humanity from the time of Adam.


This Sunday, the Gospel presents us with the beautiful image of Jesus as the good shepherd who watches over his sheep and whose love for them is so great that he laid down his life to save them.


But Sunday’s Gospel suggests another image: we are the sheep whose eternal welfare is the priority of the Good Shepherd.


As we watch political candidates making every effort to win election, we can be reminded of the efforts that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, made and continues to make through his Church to win our salvation. We are his priority.


© 2024 Rev. Thomas Iwanowski