We affectionately call the Fourth Sunday of Easter, "Good Shepherd Sunday". In addition to Psalm 23, we hear from chapter 10 of the Gospel of John wherein Jesus teaches us that He is the Lamb led to the slaughter, the gate through which all the sheep must enter, the gatekeeper who governs the gate and the good shepherd who loves his sheep. These are powerful images which invite us not simply to follow Jesus, but to radically lose ourselves in Him. Paul will say it another way in his letter to the Colossians, "Christ is all and in all (3:11)".
Jesus' beautiful portrait of the Good Shepherd is His expression of profound love for us. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep; He carries in His humanity the deepest desire of His divinity to become one with us, to enjoy such intimacy with us that we will no longer long for anything else but his love. This is very consoling and also scary. Similarly, to His teaching about the necessity of the Eucharist, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (Jn. 6:53)." so too after His teaching about the Good Shepherd, many left him and even sought to kill him (10:31-39).
We do not follow Jesus so we can go to heaven; indeed, one of the blessings of true discipleship is eternal life in heaven. We follow Jesus because He has first loved us and given His life for us. Right now, we can participate in intimate, holy communion with Christ. He is not a guidebook for right behavior; Jesus is a living fountain of love welling up in the depths of our soul with an eternal fidelity and constant friendship that dissolves all fear, forgives all guilt, heals all shame and conquers even death itself.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we are invited to fall into the loving arms of our savior who has searched the world over for us, who has offered His life for us, who has gathered us to himself for himself. Let us join Mary in her most spectacular "yes" to bringing Christ into the world.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world