On this 4th Sunday in the Easter Season we traditionally celebrate Jesus, Our Lord, as The Good Shepherd. John, the Evangelist, portrays Jesus as describing himself as “the Good Shepherd—the Gatekeeper.” His qualities as shepherd and gatekeeper are most significant: as gatekeeper-shepherd he alone has the right and authority to open the gate; the sheep enter with trust—they know that they are safe in his presence; when the sheep pass through the gate, the shepherd goes ahead of them, leading them, and the sheep follow willingly because they recognize his voice; and finally, the Good Shepherd delivers his sheep to abundant and safe pasture.
We do well on this Sunday to pray to the Holy Spirit with and for Our Holy Father, Francis. Let us pray that, as the Roman Pontiff, he will continue to have all of the qualities and skills of the Good Shepherd-Gatekeeper. May he exercise his authority to “open the gates” of the Church with care for his flock; may he “go ahead of us” to lead us with courage and with the conviction of the Gospel; may he have our trust “to follow him willingly because we recognize his voice” to be the voice of the Good Shepherd; and may he deliver us, his Church, and the world we live in to the safe pasture of unity and that peace which only the Good Shepherd, Jesus, can give.
At the same time, let us pray for all of our bishops, the successors to the apostles, especially Archbishop José Gomez, our Ordinary, and his Assistant Bishops and Episcopal Vicars, especially Monsignor James Loughnane, Vicar in the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, who will celebrate Confirmation at St. Rita this month. May they work together in the collegial spirit called for in the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, and in collaboration with all of the Baptized, who share in the Universal Priesthood of Jesus Christ. This, after all, is not only a prayer for good shepherding, but also a prayer for Church unity, effective evangelization, and for apostolic zeal in our Church.
At the conclusion of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus as the Good Shepherd-Gatekeeper declares, “I came so that they might have LIFE and have it more abundantly.” In these days of preparation for Pentecost, let us count on these Holy Spirit empowered words to be an assurance and a divine trust that Jesus left to his flock.