Fourth Sunday of Easter

A White-haired Man Writes about Life

First Reading ( Acts 4:8-12) : Aside from Jesus there is no other salvation
Second Reading ( 1 Jn 3:1-2) :Because of the Father's love we are called God's children
Gospel ( Jn 10:11-18 ) : Jesus is the Good Shepherd
Chinese Classics:
:Mocius heard this and he started off from Lao. After walking ten days and nights, he arrived at Yep and met with Kung Shu Pun. (1)
From head to foot Mocius would do whatever is good for the world.(2)

:Those who work quietly yet perform wonders, often remain unknown by others. Those who boast loudly about what they do are known by all. (3)
-:Du Fu: :With the stroke of his pen, this white-haired man wrote about life and humankind, about the sores and disfiguration of the people, about the ills and sufferings of humankind. He spent his whole life shouldering the championship of righteousness and justice.;(4)

:I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, which is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away V and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.; (Jn 10:11V15)

God is frequently called 'shepherd' in the Bible. The first line of the well-known Psalm 23 says, :The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.; (Ps 23:1) The prophet Isaiah said, :He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom.; (Is 40:11)

Of course, not all those who look after the sheep are good shepherds. Jesus said, :The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves he sheep and runs away. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.; All of these are imitators, false shepherds.

The prophet Ezekiel chastised them sternly, :Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals.; (Ezek 34:2-5)

Who is the truly good shepherd? The prophet Ezekiel has this description, :I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness... I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.;(Ezek 34:11-16)_

Among genuine and false shepherds, Jesus was truly the good shepherd, certainly the best of all. :I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.;(Jn. 10: 114-15)


Jesus likens the relationship between himself and the sheep to the relationship between himself and His Father. This is the greatest, the most intimate relationship. Because of this relationship, Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for the sheep. So he said, :No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.; (Jn 10:18)

When we talk about a person willing to sacrifice himself for others, besides Confucius I am reminded also of Mocius. Once a strong country, Cho wanted to build a high tower to attack the much weaker country of Song, assisted by Kung Shu Pun. :Mocius heard it and started off from Lao. After walking ten days and nights, he arrived at Yep and met with Kung Shu Pun.; (Mocius, Kung Shu.)(1) To help Song, he walked ten days and nights, never complaining of the hardship. He succeeded in 'convincing Cho not to attack Song' and so helped the country of Song to escape a great calamity.

Mocius was indeed a person of action. He showed his love for the world, for humankind and for life itself, with concrete actions. For the good of the people, he was willing to do anything. He was a person who, :from head to foot, would do whatever is good for the world.;(2) His spirit was not very different from that of the good Shepherd who sacrificed his life for his sheep.

There is an interesting ending to the above story about preventing Cho from attacking Song. After Mocius had performed such a great deed, he returned home. His route took him through Song - the country which he had really saved by performing a great deed. The guards at the gate to Song refused him entry into the country. Mocius sighed deeply and said, :Those who work quietly yet perform wonders, often remain unknown to others; those who boast loudly about what they do are known by all.;(3) The accomplishments of a person like Mocius are often unknown to others. But even if the deeds were not recorded in history books, nor people understand their real meaning, Mocius' good deeds were written into the book of his life.

There is another example. This is how people spoke of the 'Sage of Poetry' Du Fu: :With the stroke of his pen, this white-haired man wrote about life ad humankind, about the sores and disfiguration of the people, about the ills and sufferings of humankind. He spent his whole life shouldering the championship of righteousness and justice.; (4) He wrote about other people, but he was also writing about himself. He himself was a book- one who throughout his life was a 'voice' for the people, a book that pleaded for the lives of the people.

Jesus too was a book, as Mocius and Du Fu were books. As we pray today for vocations, let us also pray for those who dedicate themselves to love of God and care for others. Let us hope that the lives of all who follow these vocations will be books, where we can read about how people can live for others, how they can be good shepherds.

Let us hope too that any 'wrinkles' on the faces of the good shepherds will become readable lines. And may their white hairs clearly show how they have been good shepherds throughout their lives.

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