CHRIST THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Acts 2: 14.36-41, 1Pet 2: 20-25, Jn 10: 1-10
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
‘I came so that you may have life and have it to the full.’ (Gospel)
Is Jesus talking only about eternal life or also about this life? I have no doubt but these words are to be applied to our life on earth as much as to our hope of eternal life.
There is a lovely Rwandan legend that goes like this. When people arrive at the gate of heaven seeking to enter, St. Peter asks them a strange question. He says to each one, ‘Tell me this. Have you taken advantage of all the earthly joys which God in his goodness made available to you while you were on earth?’
If a person replies, ‘No, I haven’t,’ Peter shakes his head sadly and says, ‘Alas, my friend, I can’t let you in-not yet at any rate. How can you expect to be ready for the heavenly joys if you have not prepared yourself for them through the medium of earthly ones? I shall be obliged to send you back down to earth until you learn better.’
In the past the Christian religion tended to be identified with restrictions and prohibitions. Many of us were brought up on a theology of detachment from the world. This present life was viewed as nothing more than a time of trial. This kind of spirituality discouraged enjoyment of life. It led to half-heartedness. It was as if we were always keeping something back. Always living cautiously, fearfully, and miserly.
It ought to be possible to enjoy life to the fullest while being devout and religious at the same time. However, to live fully is not the same as to live it up.
Life is a fragile gift. Every moment is utterly unique. This should concentrate our attention on what we are experiencing now. But every moment is also fleeting. How quickly life’s stream runs down to the sea. This fleetingness gives life its poignancy and makes it all the more precious. ‘For we do not enjoy this world everlasting, only briefly; our life is like the warming of oneself in the sun.’ (Aztec Indians)
The Lord, the Good Shepherd, wants us to have life. Therefore, let us not be so timid and fearful. Let us live wherever presents itself to us, because everything is a gift from God. Life is generous to those who seize it with both hands.
Mere existence is not enough for us. ‘What people are looking for is not meaning in life, but the experience of being alive-the rapture of living’ (Joseph Campbell). We are meant to live. It is a well-known fact that those who have lived fully and intensely, do not feel cheated at death. ‘Fear not that your life will end; rather fear that it may never have begun.’ (Thoreau)
The poet, Patrick Kavanagh, said:
“Autumn I’d welcome had I
Known love in Summer days.
I would not weep for flowers that die
If once they’d blood for praise.
I would not cry for any tree
Leaf lost, a word of misery.
I would not make lament although
My harvest was a beggar’s woe.”
Jesus began his ministry with these words: ‘Believe in the Good News.’ What is the Good News? The Good News is: ‘I came that you may have life and have it to the full.’
Peace and all good!
Fr. Valery Burusu