Thursday, June 7, 2018

4th Sunday of Easter: Christ lays down his life

APRIL 22, 2017

Jesus, I trust in you!

I saw this very disturbing picture on the internet last night. It was a picture that won the award of photo of the decade. It was a photograph of a doe (a female deer) that was surrounded by 3 Cheetas. The cheetas were chasing this doe and her 2 fawns (baby deers). The mother deer could easily outrun the cheetas but she offered herself as their prey so that her fawns could run to safety. In the picture, the mother deer is shown looking at her babies running to safety as she is about to be torn to pieces.
I was so disturbed by that photograph that until now I cannot take it off my mind. I could just imagine how the doe was cruelly torn to pieces by the savage beasts. What savagery! What noble sacrifice! The doe stood looking at her babies running to safety. It was probably the last thing she saw before she died. She must have thought that the safety of her fawns was worth dying for.

Looking at this picture, I remembered our Lord who said today, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” The Lord spoke of the hired man who sees danger and abandons the flock. And then he spoke of the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. What spells the difference between a hired man and a shepherd? The word is “concern” (malasakit). This concern comes from the fact that the sheep the shepherd dies for are his own, just as the doe was willing to die because the fawns she protected were her own: “I know my sheep and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” The Lord Jesus died for me because he knows me and considers me his own. Because of this, Jesus willingly laid down his life for us. “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” Thus, St. John said in the 2nd reading: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.” To belong to Jesus means that we are children of God. We became God’s children at the cost of such great sacrifice. He knows us but do we know him? We should know him because he reveals himself to us. The world does not know Jesus but we know him. This much we know: Christ loved us and gave up his life for us! As the doe could easily outrun the cheetas but refused to do so in order to save her fawns, so also is this true with Jesus. As he hung on the Cross, the high priests were taunting him: Come down from that Cross and save yourself! Jesus could have easily done this because he is God. Nothing is impossible for him. But he remained on the Cross until he died. He remained there to save us. He remained on the Cross because he knows that nobody can save us but him. “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are saved.”

Knowing what he did for us increases our love for him. Loving him more increases our desire to serve him. This is the only motive for genuine priestly and religious vocations. Every priest, every consecrated person wishes to serve the Lord because he knows the Lord and loves him. At least this is the way I see it. The moment I realized how much I am loved by Jesus and how he suffered and died for me, I felt compelled to love him and serve him in return. The only reason why I decided to follow Jesus is his love for me. He loves me and died for me. And this is my prayer: that we may know him more so that we may love him and serve him more. I will never forget that doe who died for her fawns. I will never forget the Lord who willingly died for me and now is risen from the dead.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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