Fourth Sunday of Easter (April 22, 2018)

In today's Gospel, Jesus is telling us about himself and his relationship with his disciples. "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

You and I know what a good shepherd Jesus is. He loves us so much that he willingly died on the cross for all his sheep down through the ages. All of his sheep are sinners and his loving death has freed us from our sins, and his resurrection has given us a share in his new life.

Jesus tells us more: "I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father." Because Jesus has loved us and called us to be his disciples, he has invited us into a special intimacy with him: the same intimacy he shares with his Father -- a divine intimacy.

How can anyone pass up that invitation?

The more we open ourselves and respond to Jesus’ invitation, the more we realize how life changing our response is. And we are not alone. All disciples around us and in our world are making the same effort we are, allowing that divine intimacy to transform the way we live our daily lives. Our efforts support the working of grace in all.

The Eucharist we share nourishes our divine intimacy with Jesus and with one another. Our good shepherd gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink and he promises us eternal life.

As we allow the divine intimacy to grow within us, the words of St. John offer us encouragement. "Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God...We are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

Let us keep our minds and hearts focused each day on the intimate invitation of Jesus and respond generously.