GOD HAS GOT YOUR BACK! HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

God is for us

Some time ago, I saw a reality documentary that made me sad. It was a collection of stories of parents who left their kids in their cars while either going shopping, running late to the office or catching up with friends. The more disturbing part is that some of those kids died under the suffocating heat of the sun with the windows wound up.

When authorities interrogated some of the parents who were involved in these gruesome incidences, they confessed that they forgot them in their cars. That sounds weird, but it is true. Sometimes, we forget the unforgettable.

Some of us may feel bad about these incidences and may even blame the defaulters. However, we could also recall that we often fail to be watchful teachers, parents, mentors, and guides when we consciously or unconsciously allow those under us to stray or get hurt by people, events, and circumstances out there.

This Fourth Sunday of Easter is also the Good Shepherd Sunday. The 23rd Psalm, which forms the responsorial psalm today, gives us the legendry catchphrase that says, “the Lord is my Shepherd.” This reflection would render this catchphrase as “God has got your back!”

The Psalm 23rd is from David, who was a seasoned Shepherd. We could recall that his argument to fight Goliath was that he had killed lions and bears with his bare hands through the power of God when they attacked his herd of sheep (1 Samuel 17:32-37). In the next part of his life, God saved him multiple times from the hands of King Saul, who became very jealous of him and was haunting after him to kill him.

When David declared, “the Lord is my Shepherd,” he was not speculating nor guessing; instead, he was reflecting on his experience as a fearless shepherd and first-hand encounter with God as the Shepherd of his life. A more in-depth reflection of the statements of the Psalm would help us to see how God got your back even at the most dreadful moments of our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Notice that the Psalm uses the verb “is” to demonstrate the currency of the Lord’s shepherding power. He is not referring to what happened in the past or what would happen in the future. Instead, he was referring to an on-going reality.

The letter to the Hebrews (13:8) says that the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Letter of St. James (1:17) says that every perfect gift comes from the Father of lights above in whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

The Psalm also says, “I shall not want.” What this means is that you have all you need, namely God, who is the Shepherd that got your back. If you have God, you have everything. You will get verdant pastures and restful waters for the revival of your soul, simple.

He Guides me in the Right Path. There are two paths in life: the right and the wrong path. The gap between where you are and where you when to be is the path you follow. In the Jewish setting, the Shepherd goes while the sheep follow where the Shepherd leads. There are times in the search for greener pastures when the Shepherd had to lead the sheep through a dark valley.

A valley is incredibly a low land, usually situated between two mountains. It is often dark even during the day because the mountains cast shadows into the valley. The dark valley is not generally comfortable for the sheep, but because the Shepherd is leading them, they fear no evil because he is by their side to guide and direct them with his rod of power and staff of authority.

Does this relate to your life? Sometimes you may pass through some dark valleys. We are indeed passing through a dark valley currently in our history with the COVID-19. Yes, we are passing through and not stuck in it. St. Peter tells us in the Second Reading to (1 Peter 2:20b-25) to be patient in our suffering like our Lord Jesus Christ. The good news is that we have a Shepherd who is leading you on the right paths through the dark valley.

He says in Deuteronomy (31: 6) that you should not be afraid of them, He will neither forget you nor forsake you. He tells you in Psalm (27: 10) that even if Father and mother forget you, He will take care of us. He also reminds you in the prophecy of Isaiah (49:15-16) that even if a woman forgets her suckling baby, He will not forget you because your name is written on the palms of His hand.                                                                                      He assures you in Isaiah (41:10) that you should not look around in fear because He is holding us with His righteous right hand. He got our backs, folks, even in this dark valley!

You Spread the Table Before me in the Sight of my Foes. At this point, you can shout Alleluia because you are out of the dark valley, now is the time for merriment. A table means there is food, and your enemies would be around to see you eat so that when you are done eating would do the dishes; otherwise, they have no business watching you eat. Notice also that your head is anointed with oil, which indicates there is an unction for success because your cup will overflow.

Only Goodness and Kindness Follow me All the Days of my Life. Often in life, many things follow people around. They could be challenges coming in various sizes and shapes like hard times, failures, and bad luck. However, when the Lord becomes your Shepherd, David says only goodness and kindness will follow you. Even if you do not see them now, be patient, they will come, and they will not only follow you, they will overwhelm and overtake you.

Goodness and kindness shall follow you because our Lord Jesus Christ, the gate to the sheepfold, would grant you the ultimate protection from the enemy, the devil whose plan is to steal, slaughter, and destroy. Good and kindness shall follow you because Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd would give you eternal life, yes, you shall have the benefit of living in the house of the Lord forever and ever. Amen.

As march out today say it, shout it, announce that the Lord is your Shepherd, and He has got you back so shall not want.

God bless you and have a wonderful week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

 

 

 

 

 

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