25 April 2015

FROM OBLIGATION TO LOVING COMMITMENT

SUNDAY SNIPPETS: EASTER SUNDAY IV
acts 4:8-12; 1 john 3:1-2; john 10:11-18

a few years ago, i picked up a new pair of specs from dinshaw’s in pune. back home, i was trying them on and one of the lenses got chipped.
i returned at once and explained to the salesperson what had happened. he rudely told me that i would have to pay for the replacement of the lens. as we were talking, the owner entered and asked what the matter was. i explained what had happened. he apologized for the inconvenience and assured me that the lens would be replaced at no charge. when the salesperson tried arguing with him, he bluntly told him: «nc. no charge»! 

there is a big difference between an owner and a hired hand. perhaps there is a bigger difference between people who are committed and those who are just doing a job. 

that is the point JESUS makes in this sunday’s gospel. 
he contrasts the attitudes of a good shepherd and a false one. a real shepherd is born to his task; it is a vocation! he knows his sheep and even calls them by name; he loves his sheep and they love him; it is second nature for him to think of his sheep before he thinks of himself; he does not abandon his sheep even, and perhaps especially, in the face of danger. for hired hands, to which JESUS likens the pharisees, it is a «job» and not as a calling; they are in it solely for the pay, with absolutely no concern for the sheep: «they care nothing for the sheep» and so they run away in the face of danger. 
one who works out of loving commitment thinks of the people one is serving, and is totally with them. one who works out of a sense of obligation thinks chiefly about oneself and recompense.

JESUS was the good shepherd who loved his sheep deeply and whose concern for them extended to freely laying down his life: «no one takes it from me, but i lay it down on my own.»

JESUS, the good shepherd, invites us to be good shepherds. he challenges us to move from acting out of obligation to service in loving commitment; to stand with and be a faithful presence to people in need.
who, in my life, needs «good shepherding»? what forms will «being with» take?