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Friday, 01 May 2020 18:33

Fourth Sunday of Easter - 2020

Written by Fr Frank Gerry SVD

Fr Frank Gerry SVD 150

Many of the images Jesus chose in his teaching or manifests in his relationships are images of tender, loving care and intimacy.

I don’t need to be a prophet to say there are times and situations in life when we surely need the reassurance of a faith in the tender, intimate care of Jesus. Some such images of the words or interactions of Jesus need to be etched into our souls. There is no shame in saying that!

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus uses the image of the Good Shepherd who knows the sheep by name and is ready to lay down his life for them.

In other Gospel readings, there are the parables of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep, and his comforting reassurance to the Good Thief on the cross – all of these reflect the same tender care, intimacy and personal understanding that Jesus portrays.

And as we are in Easter-time, there are his touching, post-Resurrection appearances. Jesus shows particular tenderness in these encounters.

Imagine the joyful surprise of sorrowing Mary Magdalene when Jesus calls her by name, Mary!; then there is the understanding and encouragement he gave to poor Thomas who couldn’t bring himself to believe in his Resurrection until he could place his hand in Jesus’ pierced side; and the two distraught disciples travelling to Emmaus, how gentle and understanding was the presence and help that Jesus offered them!; and finally, there is his interaction with Peter whom he meets by the Lake Tiberias and coaxes him beyond his denials and self-doubts into a public profession of his love for Jesus.

After naming these few occasions, do we still have difficulty in believing this, in taking on board a belief in the tenderness and intimacy that our Lord offers those in need?

This leads me to wonder do priests and preachers of the Word believe this themselves?

If they do, then they cannot conceal it in their actions and presence to people. The tenderness and intimacy shown by the Lord in his presence to others will also be reflected in their words and actions. There are so many Catholics who have complaints against the Church, who have been wounded, who haven’t experienced from the ministers of the Church this tenderness and intimacy that Jesus speaks about and radiates in his person. He cares deeply about us and wants to believe in the depth of his mission – “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (Jn.10:10 ).

There is no shame in admitting that we need something of the tenderness and intimacy Jesus shows communicated to us through our community of faith. The second reading from the Letter of Peter tells us this.

Faith in Jesus, even the tender intimate Jesus, does not protect us from the hardships of life but it can resource us, as the second reading reminds us. It is this faith in the Easter Jesus that sustains us when the arrows of misfortune hit us.

May those last words from today’s Gospel reading reassure us: I have come that you may have life and have it to the full (Jn. 10:10)..

Yes, Lord!
I believe!