(Fourth Sunday of Easter: Acts 4:8-12; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18)
This is Good Shepherd Sunday. Each of the three years of the liturgical cycle has—on the fourth Sunday of Easter—we hear a different portion of John 10, where Jesus calls himself Shepherd.
“I know mine and mine know me,” Jesus says. This is the basis of trust for those who follow him. They know they are his; he will never abandon them. The Shepherd and his flock belong to each other. How many times God promises, “I will be your God, you will be my people.”
In his first letter, St. John uses a different image: “We are God’s children now.” This, too, is an invitation to trust.
“Come closer, my children, don’t be afraid.” Our Lady of La Salette claims Maximin and Mélanie as her children and, through them, all of us as well, whom she calls “my people.” She belongs to us, we belong to her. After being terrified at first, the children came to her with perfect confidence. Even though much of what she said was unpleasant to hear, she did not inspire fear.
St. Peter in his discourse powerfully urges his audience to put their trust in Jesus. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."
In the rite of infant baptism, the priest addresses the child with the words, “The Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross.” Child and Savior belong to each other, so too the child and the Christian community. This means that each has a claim on the other.
In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that people of faith should expect God to hear their prayers. In Hebrews 4:16 we read: “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (This verse, by the way, used to serve as the Introit for the Mass in honor of Our Lady of La Salette.)
But God has a legitimate claim on us: obedience and respect. This is not burdensome. It is part of the trust that we place in the Good Shepherd.
We belong to Christ’s flock, to the family of God’s children, to Mary’s people. Why would we ever be afraid?