Easter 4 – He lays down his Life | #219

Fr. Joel Homilies 1 Comment

He lays down his Life (12:40)

Easter, 4th Sunday. The image of the Good Shepherd still inspires and consoles us. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” Jesus tells us that he doesn’t just take good care of the sheep, He lays down His life for them. Only Jesus, the Good Shepherd, would love his sheep so much that he would die for us.

“…We shall be like Him…” says our 2nd reading. If our Good Shepherd lays down His life for us, we have to do the same. So many marriages fail precisely because we misunderstand this point. If his #1 is himself, and her #1 is herself, they eventually get tired of living with a selfish person. The recipe for a successful marriage is for him to put his wife first, and for her to put her husband first. It’s easy to say but it’s hard to do, because we do not realize how selfish we really are.

Every day we feel that our life is being taken away from us by all the demands that other people place upon us. This makes us feel imposed upon. We choose to give but we do so resentfully, and that resentment starts to grow inside of us, until it begins to destroy all our relationships. Selfishness takes life away from others, until we feel lifeless.

The truth is that no one takes my life from me. If I choose to give freely, and lay my own life down, that sacrifice is life-giving.  Every day we have opportunities to lay down our lives. If we give of ourselves freely, we imitate the Good Shepherd who daily lays down His own life so that we might have life. These little choices matter. They slowly shape our lives into one of two great directions:

  • Either we choose to love God so much that we end up denying ourselves
  • Or we choose love ourselves so much that we end up denying God

The Lord is my Shepherd… who lays down His life for the sheep.

(29 Apr 2012)

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    Not too long ago, I heard that sheep will follow the known voice of their shepherd – not a stranger.

    That made me do a little investigating on shepherds. What I learned made it more meaningful about why Jesus is wrote about as “The Good Shepherd” (kind of telling – if there is a good shepherd, then there must be bad ones, but that’s a whole ‘nother sermon).

    Shepherds would back in Jesus’ time, bring their flock to a small enclosure at night in an effort to protect it from predators. The shepherd would literally lay down at the opening, laying down his life literally, closing the circle of protection for the sheep in his care.

    Wow.

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