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Daily Missal Reflection

Creighton U. Daily Reflection

April 23, 2024
by Rashmi Fernando, S.J.
Creighton University's Department of Interdisciplinary Leadrship in Education
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 280

Acts 11:19-26
Psalms 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7
John 10:27

Celebrating Easter Resources

Don't Work for Food that Perishes

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

Are You Among My Sheep?

As life often demonstrates, pending decisions can be distressing. The greater the significance of a decision, the more time should one be devoted to prayer, reflection, and discernment. The Ignatian tradition advocates it because it is during this period of suspense that one becomes acutely aware of their inner desires, disordered affections, and means to attain spiritual freedom, a concept St. Ignatius refers to as indifference. While this suspense is inevitable and, therefore, willingly embraced, it often becomes a period of dryness and a desert-like experience that induces anxiety. Whether awaiting news from a job interview, or anticipating a pay increase, transfer, promotion, demotion, or dismissal, or awaiting judgment in court or a specialist's medical diagnosis report, the longer the wait, the more the anxiety one undergoes.

A similar scenario is echoed in today's Gospel passage. As Jesus walked in the temple, the anxious Jews approached him: "How long will you keep us in suspense?" Understandably, their anxiety was stemming from the fact of not knowing who Jesus was, because without knowing who he was, they were not able to control the situation. Their anxiety to know Jesus, therefore, was caused by not only their prolonged suspense of not knowing who Jesus was but also their extended inability to exercise authority over him. Knowing it well, Jesus responded to them by bringing in three testimonies that they failed to believe in: His words ("I told you..."), his actions ("The works I do..."), and the authority with which he spoke and acted (" my Father's name..."). And the reason Jesus gives for their disbelief is rather astonishing: “…because you are not among my sheep”.

Reflecting on Jesus' use of the term ‘sheep’, I discern at least three interpretations relevant to our post-resurrection era. Firstly, Jesus is the good shepherd who calls and cares for his sheep as his own (“my sheep”). Secondly, he is not only the true shepherd, but he is also the sacrificial ram of the New Testament, sharing in the collective sheepfold of our humanity. In that profound solidarity, he abased himself to our level to become one among and like us (his fellow sheep), humbled himself at our feet, and endured betrayals, suffering, and a horrific slaughter at a stake so that we may be saved. Thirdly, he is truly the Lamb of God, the one who was not only crucified and killed but also resurrected among us, thus manifesting his unconditional and unfathomable love and loyalty not only to the Father but also to us, his beloved flock. His love and loyalty to his own sheep were so strong that he, before ascending back to the Father, made sure to entrust his authority to the Church, instructing, “Feed my sheep” (Jn. 21:17), thus affirming our collective responsibility to nurture and guide one another after him.

As we contemplate today's readings, therefore, let us individually and collectively ask ourselves: Am I among the Christ’s sheep today? Do my words and actions warrant Christ's ownership? What is the level of my love and loyalty to my fellow sheep within my own family, at workplace, and in society? How responsibly do I exercise authority vested on me in the Church, especially in caring for the lost sheep?

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