As I tried to reflect on today’s Gospel, I remembered one anecdote from my high school days, it was my first year in high school in an all-boys school when we were encouraged to take the sacrament of reconciliation. That was the second time I went to confession; the first one was before my first Holy Communion. And so I tried to recall the best that I can all my sins — with true contrition. Before the priest gave my absolution and penance, he lectured me first and used ‘harsh’words to remind me to abhor committing sin. This experience got me traumatized to the point that I no longer want to go to confession but as time went by, I realized that the priest was not mad at my but at my sins; the priest just wanted me to be a better Christian. To this day, I still go to confession regularly. After that traumatic yet encouraging incident, I loved the sacrament if Reconciliation even more.
Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter and we celebrate what is also called “Good Shepherd Sunday”.I am aware that my realization might not apply to all, as some might perceive my confessor as a ‘scary’priest because of how he dealt with me, who is s penitent. We do want priests that are very approachable (insert other priestly characteristics), but the truth of the matter is that all priests are still human; they will have different personalities, temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses. Though at some point their weaknesses are highlighted, it is always good to put in perspective that they are also sheep among us laity and that only Jesus Christ is the true Good Shepherd. May we always pray for our spiritual leaders especially the Pope, Vicar of Christ on Earth, that they may always set an example for us to follow.
My other point of reflection in today’s gospel is that we, the laity should also serve as good shepherds to our family, friends, and colleagues. We should be Christ to others so that we can help them be close to our Lord and have that perso al relationship with Him. We must try our best not to be the thieves and robbers who want to harm the sheep when we commit grave mistakes or any action unbecoming of a follower of Christ. The people can only follow if they can hear the Shepher, our Lord, through our example, actions, and how we live our lives as devout Catholics. Others must smell in us the smell of the Good Shepherd, who smells similarly with His sheep.
“Whoever enter the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him and the sheep hear his voice as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
Though we may be disheartened and discouraged by our servant leaders (sometimes to the point of finding a new Sheepfold), may we always pray and seek the Guidance of the Good Shepherd to guide his flock, the Church and His people, and remind ourselves that Jesus Christ Himself is the only gate and we must follow Him no matter how difficult it is. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd and we are all mere servant leaders for our brothers and sisters. Also, may we ask the intercession of our Mother Mary, the Shepherdess who cared for Jesus as a Child and who has a voice that can lead us to the Gate, our Lord.