Each year on the 4th Sunday of Easter, the gospel reminds us that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. Without a good shepherd, sheep cannot live a good life and often will have a very short life. The reason for that is the shepherd makes sure that his sheep have food and drink and are kept safe from wolves that will destroy them. Without a shepherd to follow, sheep get lost and find themselves all alone or, even worse, fall off mountain cliffs and die.
Without Jesus, we will not have eternal life. Without Jesus, we will not have the Eucharist, our spiritual food and drink. Without Jesus, we can easily get lost and wander into unsafe, dangerous places. For sheep to live well, they have to follow the shepherd and stay close to him. The same is true for Jesus and us.
In order to follow Jesus faithfully, we have to live a moral life, to follow the commandments, to do our best to avoid sin, to imitate Jesus in our daily life. That means we have to serve others, forgive those who have hurt us, trust God to care for us, and the Holy Spirit to lead us.
To follow Jesus faithfully, also means we need to be part of a community that prays together to give praise and worship to God. At the Last Supper, as Jesus gave His disciples His Body and Blood, He told them, “Do this in memory of me.” Ever since the beginning of the Church, Christians meet on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, for the Eucharist, which is why we are here right now. Sunday Mass is the best prayer and the highlight of the week for our spiritual lives. Our relationship with Jesus, and with each other, is centered on Sunday Mass where we share again in the sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross for us.
To follow Jesus faithfully also requires us to take time each day to pray. Perhaps it can only be for a few minutes, but we have to stay close to Jesus by speaking to Him, reading God’s word, and listening for the Lord to speak to us.
In the first reading, Peter preaches that salvation is in the name of Jesus, a reminder that our relationship with the Lord has to be important to us. In the second reading, John tells us that the Father loves us and we are God’s children and when we see God, we will be like God. Again, that means we have to stay close to God each day.
All of this reminds us that we need to put time into our relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd. As His flock, we need to stay together, to follow Him faithfully and to stay united to Him each day, but especially on Sunday at Mass. There is no better place we could be right now than right here.