The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD – Sta Theresa, Central Australia
Monday 4th Week of Easter
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
One of the “characters” over here in the remote aboriginal community of Santa Teresa in Central Australia is an aboriginal man called Tommy. Tommy lives alone in his house. However, Tommy is not really that alone as he has 15 dogs for company. Most of these dogs are stray or abandoned dogs; he takes care of them because he just can’t let these dogs die because nobody’s taking care of them.
On Sundays, I walk up the hill to ring the huge bell to tell the community that mass is on in an hour. On my way to the hill though, I have to pass by Tommy’s house and when Tommy is not there, I’m in trouble because the dogs would start barking at me. When he is there, Tommy would just shout at the dogs, and it becomes quiet. So, every time I pass by Tommy’s house, I hope and pray that he is around.
In today’s Gospel, during the time of Christ, shepherds spend the whole day with their sheep. He is not just there when he brings the sheep to the pasture but also when he brings the sheep to the enclosure at night where there is no gate. The shepherd himself is the gate to ensure that no thief would grab any sheep without him knowing it.
This is the protection that Jesus is offering to anyone who follows him. Not only that, Jesus also knows all of us by name. On the part of Jesus’ followers, they know his voice; that is why they know who they are following. When we are following Jesus, we are assured of his love and protection.
Sadly though, we live in a world where many are pretending to be good shepherds. Many are vying for our attention, pretending that they will lead us to good pasture only to trick us and leave us disappointed. These are people who only want our money or who want to dominate others to show that they are powerful.
Jesus knows us because we are his sheep. Yet, we should know his voice. We can only know the voice of the Good Shepherd if we have time to quiet our mind and pray to him often so that we may be able to hear his voice in the silence of our hearts. May the Risen Jesus be always our Good Shepherd, the only person who will protect us, bring us to good pasture, and lead us to eternal life.