By Lindsay Schlegel
“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” ~ John 10:10
At halfway through the Easter season, our focus today is on the abundance the Lord offers us as the Good Shepherd. I hope your Easter has been full of blessings, moments of grace, and an awareness of how deeply the Risen Lord loves you. But if it hasn’t, today is a day to revive your spirits as we reflect on this Good—Wonderful!—News.
A Good Shepherd Who Brings Great Gifts
When Peter testifies to Jesus as Lord and Christ, the people respond with a desire for action. “What are we to do?” they ask the apostles. Peter tells them to repent and be baptized and then tells them what God will do for them: “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Three thousand people give their fiat that day and take with them the knowledge that this gift is intended to be shared. “For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call,” Peter says. God’s love is without bounds.
To repent and be baptized is to give a total gift of the self to the Lord. In exchange, God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit—a total gift of Himself. This self-gift is love in its purest and most beautiful form. Pope St. Paul VI taught in Gaudium et Spes, “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” And so, in giving ourselves entirely to the Lord in repentance and baptism, we receive not only the Lord (which would have been enough!) but also ourselves as completely and fully as we are capable.
In the Best of Times, in the Worst of Times
The circumstances of life—even in the midst of what ought to be a season of great joy—can mean that it’s difficult to accept these gifts. For example, losing a loved one, watching someone struggle with addiction, being uncertain how you will pay the bills, or experiencing depression and anxiety can make us feel far from God and His love. Trials like these can make it difficult to respond to God and entrust ourselves to Him.
But Psalm 23, the responsorial for today and one often used at funerals, is relentless in describing how tender and plentiful God’s love is. Every day of the week, God offers us repose, rest, refreshment, courage, an anointing, and a cup that overflows. We have a place “in the house of the LORD for years to come.”
Like a good shepherd, our Lord will never leave us. He will never stop loving us. His love is full, complete, overflowing, plenty.
Risen Lord, thank You for the gift of Your love and mercy. Help me to appreciate the sacrifice You made for me by living totally for You. Amen.
Call to Action
Make a gift of yourself today without seeking praise or recognition. Drop flowers off at a friend’s house, share a batch of cookies with a neighbor, or visit with someone who isn’t able to leave home or a care facility.
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