Are We Ready?

Are We Ready?

Good Shepherd Sunday

A few weeks ago we referred to the parable of the Good Shepherd to consider how astounding it is that the Lord would die for us. We also noted that some of the Jews thought He was mad. That a man who would die for his sheep seems indeed to denote a lack common sense. Can there be any comparison between the life of a man and that of a sheep. Is it not better that a sheep, indeed all sheep, should die rather than that one man be lost?

Today’s parable serves the purpose of hammering home that truth upon which the entire Gospel is built: God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn 3). Yes, ultimately is about God’s folly of love for His creature. When we come to realise this, our hearts cannot fail to be moved. Our Lord has also revealed to us what exactly He has saved us from – as today’s collect tells us, eternal death in Hell – and that should ignite in us an immense gratitude.

At the same time, St Peter makes it clear that the Lord’s suffering and dying for us also serves the purpose of giving us an example to follow: we too are called to suffer for others, and even to lay down our lives if the opportunity were to present itself. Once again we are challenged in a way that the world will call insane. And indeed in a world in which it is all about personal success, pleasure and promotion, it seems incredible that anyone could sacrifice their life for others.

And yet that is precisely what the example of Our blessed Saviour has never ceased to do; it has inspired the self-sacrificial attitude of so many Christians throughout the centuries, the martyrs first of all, but also those who give their lives in the service of others, foregoing many pleasures and satisfactions to make themselves available to those in need. Perhaps on this Sunday and throughout this week, we could ask ourselves a few honest questions and give ourselves some honest answers.

Are we ready to lay down our life for God, for the truth, for our faith, rather than deny Him and the truths He has so graciously revealed? Are we ready to lay down our life for those we love?

If you are a married man, are you ready to lay down your life for your wife? If you are a father or a mother, are you ready to lay down your life for your children?

Going further and following the example of our Lord, are we ready to lay down our life even for our enemies or for those who hurt us? That is what He did, for when we were still sinners He died for us.

An honest answer to these questions will often include a certain hesitation. Even if the answer comes rather quickly as it should for a parent, we must nevertheless be mindful of our weakness. Many have failed at the moment of trial because they presumed on their own strength.

So let our prayer be a humble one that we would have enough love to sacrifice ourselves for anyone in need, for that is what Jesus our Saviour did. Then we will be like the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.

Let us ask Our Lady, who is invoked as the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, to help us. She did not undergo the martyrdom of blood, but she is queen of martyrs for having stood at the foot of the cross with Her son. May she obtain for each of us the love that goes out, that reaches out, that refuses to remain entangled in selfish considerations, and that makes it possible to give all to find all. Amen.