Homily — 4th Sunday of Easter[i]
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
May 3, 2020
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is a beautiful Sunday that we call “Good Shepherd Sunday,” because on this fourth Sunday of Easter the Church presents us with our Lord’s beautiful description of his love for us.
And it is interesting to notice that in the Scriptures, God is portrayed sometimes as a shepherd and his great servants, the prophet Moses and King David, were also shepherds.
So we are invited today to reflect on our relationship with Jesus in this way.
Again, we are in the Easter season, so we reflect on this in light of the love that he has shown to us in his passion, death, and resurrection.
In the second reading today, St. Peter tells us: “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
What a beautiful love our Lord has for us. He carries our sins, to set us free. He suffers to heal us, so that we can live in holiness.
What St. Peter is telling us today is that we were like sheep without a shepherd. We were lost and could not find our way, the right path to follow. And Jesus brings us back through his sacrifice on the cross. And he is now “the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
But what does that mean? What it means to think of Jesus as the shepherd of our souls, the guardian of our souls?
Jesus explains this today in a beautiful way: “The sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”
Brothers and sisters, in our relationship with Jesus we need to understand that we belong to Jesus. We are his “own sheep” and he calls us by our own name, as he tells us.
Jesus walks ahead of us, like a Good Shepherd — He loves us so much that he calls us to follow him, and he shows us the way, and he protects us. He is still teaching us and guiding us, as we make our way through the world.
We just prayed the beautiful psalm 23, that we all know well: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want … he refreshes my soul… He guides me in right paths … Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life ….”
And in this times that we are living, we need to have a strong faith because these are difficult days. We are living, for many weeks now, with uncertainty and all kinds of sufferings.
But Jesus is with us, guiding us and guarding us, and he is still calling us by name. This pandemic is a test for all of us. And, it has a personal meaning for each one of us.
It is not easy. We are stressed out more than ever in these days. And there are lot of other messages and voices that we are hearing these days. And there is still a lot of confusion and fear.
But what we pray in today’s psalm is true: “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil, for you are at my side.”
So let us ask for that grace today, to stay close to him, to pray and listen to him calling us by name. So, what is he saying to you in this moment? What is he saying to me? There is a message in these challenging times for each one of us.
We need to renew our “conversation” with Jesus. We need to make time every day to find some silence and be able to listen to the voice of Jesus.
Let us ask for the grace to keep going on the right path, the path that he shows us. He will refresh our souls, he will lead us to where he wants us to be. Believe in his love for you, trust in his plan for your life.
Then, as we know, this is also the Month of Mary and there is no better way to reflect on the way of Jesus than by contemplating his life in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
On Friday, as many of you know, we renewed the consecration of our country to Mary our Blessed Mother, as the Mother of the Church.
We asked our Blessed Mother to turn her eyes of mercy towards us — to help us in this time of trial, when many are dying and our faith is being tested. We asked her to intercede with her Son, to protect us and deliver us from this evil of the coronavirus.
And we know that in the end, the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph. For with God nothing will be impossible.
So this is a beautiful month for us to renew and deepen our love for Mary. In fact, our Holy Father Pope Francis is encouraging us “to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May.”
So, maybe we can all offer this little gift to Mary in the month of May. Maybe we can dedicate ourselves to finding time to come together every day, to pray the Rosary in our families and in our homes.
We can start small, even praying just one decade of the Rosary. It will be something beautiful we can offer to Mary from our families.
Let us turn always to the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Mother, especially in these challenging times.
Let us ask Mary to help us to keep following in the footsteps of Jesus our Good Shepherd, talking and listening to him in our prayer, our personal conversation with him, and reflecting on his love in mysteries of the Rosary.
May she help us to stay on the right path with him, as he brings us out of our sorrows to the joy of Resurrection.