Easter, 4th Sunday. The image of the Good Shepherd still inspires and consoles us. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." Jesus tells us that he doesn't just take good care of the sheep, He lays down His life for them. Only Jesus, the Good Shepherd, would love his sheep so much that he would die for us.
"...We shall be like Him..." says our 2nd reading. If our Good Shepherd lays down His life for us, we have to do the same. So many marriages fail precisely because we misunderstand this point. If his #1 is himself, and her #1 is herself, they eventually get tired of living with a selfish person. The recipe for a successful marriage is for him to put his wife first, and for her to put her husband first. It's easy to say but it's hard to do, because we do not realize how selfish we really are.
Every day we feel that our life is being taken away from us by all the demands that other people place upon us. This makes us feel imposed upon. We choose to give but we do so resentfully, and that resentment starts to grow inside of us, until it begins to destroy all our relationships. Selfishness takes life away from others, until we feel lifeless.
The truth is that no one takes my life from me. If I choose to give freely, and lay my own life down, that sacrifice is life-giving. Every day we have opportunities to lay down our lives. If we give of ourselves freely, we imitate the Good Shepherd who daily lays down His own life so that we might have life. These little choices matter. They slowly shape our lives into one of two great directions:
- Either we choose to love God so much that we end up denying ourselves
- Or we choose love ourselves so much that we end up denying God
(29 Apr 2012)