Wellspring Community

Wellspring - Fr. Lawrence 020

CELEBRATE EASTER (4)

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……Breathe in all that is of God and from God…all that is true, honest, pure, admirable, noble, decent, virtuous, worthy of praise, good, loving, kind – all that deserves respect..

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity. Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – Solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

It’s time to rest with God……to rest in God. This hour…..this moment…..rest in God.

Good-bye to all goals, projects, structures, situations, feelings, thoughts….I am in meditation, in contemplation, resting in God, abiding in God.

Today’s meditation is on the promise of Jesus to be our Good Shepherd who calls us to the fullness of life.

After the Resurrection of Jesus, Peter reminded the Jews that Jesus, whom they crucified, is Messiah and Lord (Acts 2:14, 36-41). When they heard this, they asked Peter and the other apostles what they must do. Peter called them to conversion, a change of heart, to Baptism, to forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Many responded to his call.

Easter reminds us of our own Baptism…..we are immersed into the mystery of God’s life and love….now we must live and move in this mystery!

Peter recalled the image of the suffering servant of God from Isaiah 53, which came to life in Jesus (1 Peter 2:20-25). He was without sin, yet he was insulted and he suffered. But he accepted the insults and the suffering for the sins of mankind. Peter says, Jesus gave us the “pattern” which we have to follow. If we have to suffer insult and injury, we have only to go through what he has already gone through.

So suffer patiently whatever comes your way.

Peter recalled again one of the oldest images of God as “shepherd” of the souls of men (1 Peter 2:20-25). At the time of Jesus, the sheep had to graze in the narrow central plateau without protecting walls, where grass was sparse. The shepherd had to be ceaselessly and sleeplessly on the watch to protect the sheep from harm. This image of the shepherd reveals the unfailing vigilance and self-sacrificing love of God for us.

Peter also uses the image of God as “guardian” of our souls. The word “guardian”, “Episkopos” in Greek, was a noble word meaning, protector, guide, director, overseer, administrator and guardian. God is presented as the shepherd and guardian of our souls.

In his love, he cares for us; in his power he protects us; in his wisdom he guides us in the right way.

Jesus gave us the beautiful and inspiring image of the shepherd, who has an intimate and very personal knowledge of the sheep, calling the sheep by name and the sheep recognizing his voice, leading the sheep and keeping them safe (John 10:1-10). This image of the shepherd reveals the unfailing vigilance and self-sacrificing love of God for us in Jesus. Jesus is presented as this shepherd, a caring, listening, sensitive and self-sacrificing leader.

The listeners of Jesus did not understanding this parable. So he told them another parable that spoke of the shepherd as the door or gate of the sheepfold. The hillside sheepfolds in Palestine were open spaces enclosed by a wall with only an opening and no door. The Shepherd would lie down across the opening and no sheep could get in or out except over his body – the shepherd became the door. This is the image that Jesus used when he said, “I am the gate”. It is through Jesus that we find access to God. In and through Jesus we have a new sense of security and safety. In and through Jesus we have life in abundance. He says, he came so that we may “have life and have it more abundantly”.

Jesus spoke of himself as the good and caring shepherd who knows us, loves us, leads us and lays down his life for us (John 10:11-18). The image of the shepherd appealed to the listeners of Jesus and to the early Christians. Sheep and Shepherd shared intimate and lifelong relationship.

This was a good and readily understood image which described the bond between Jesus and his followers. The good shepherd knows and is known by the sheep……….the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep………..because the good shepherd loves, cherishes and values the sheep. Those who hear the voice of the good shepherd and follow his voice will be secure, safe…will “never be snatched away”.

The image of the shepherd is very challenging and demanding to the contemporary ministers since it reflects a very caring, provident, protective, selfless, self-sacrificing and enduring relationship. The good shepherd knows and is known by the sheep….the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep because the good shepherd loves, cherishes and values the sheep.

Our good shepherd, Jesus, in laying down his life for us, secured our safety and our salvation. Be grateful! You have a good shepherd in Jesus!

Look to this good shepherd for direction and follow his direction!

Take a moment…reflect on the image of the good shepherd……

I am the good shepherd…… (who) lays down his life for the sheep. What an amazing relationship between human beings and their maker!!!

How awesome it is that we have become cherished and prized objects of divine diligence and sacrifice!!!

God, in Christ, is deeply concerned about me, as an individual person and not just one in a crowd – this should give me a sense of dignity and worth, pride and devotion, gratitude and praise, meaning and purpose…..

The Psalmist proclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23). Now we can proclaim it even more boldly because the Lord has said, “I am the good shepherd” who is ready to lay down his life for us. The good shepherd spares no pains for the welfare of the sheep. We can look to our good shepherd with absolute confidence and devotion.

David had been a shepherd and he knew how to care for the sheep and what it cost him. He became shepherd of his people. He had to figure out how he should care for them. He knew the sheep well and now he must come to know his people, their ways, their needs and their concerns. This problem gave him a new awareness of what God, the true shepherd, is like in his relationship to his people.

Like shepherd….God knows his people just as they are in all their need, in their stubbornness and stupidity as well as in their value and worth. Like a shepherd…God reaches out, searches out the lost and keeps them safe. Like a shepherd…..God provides food, drink, safety, light in darkness, Grace, comfort and strength in “dark valley moments”. Psalm 23 proclaims the enduring, steadfast, loyal, unconquerable love of God, the good shepherd, who will never let us slip out of his hands!

Pray with Confidence:

The Lord is my shepherd!

I shall not want….

I shall not fear………

Only goodness and kindness will come to me…………….

The reward for listening and faithfully following the good shepherd is “eternal life”, fullness of life, a life of intimacy, communion with the father because, “the father and I are one”, said Jesus.

Look to Jesus as your good shepherd, leader and friend! And like the good shepherd, be a caring, sensitive and self-sacrificing leader! Learn to make these qualities yours in your ministry as a parent or educator or pastor or political or social leader whatever your life call may be.

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs