May 8, 2022 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/050822.cfm)
The late-Philippine lady senator while once giving a graduation speech, Miriam Defensor-Santiago made this joke. She said… Beside a swimming pool, two girls are having this following conversation. G1 said to G2: Know what? you are going to float (Alam mo. Lulutang ka). G2 to G1: Why? Is it because I’m getting slim, light & sexy? (Bakit? Dahil ba, magaan, slim at sexy ako? G1 replied: No, it’s because you are Plastic (Dahil plastic ka). Funny & rude it maybe, but it tells a lot.
Now, how do we distinguish a GOOD parent, teacher, friend, politician, leader, mentor, or coach from a BAD one? How do we know if that person is real, true, authentic, deep, honest & trustworthy? How do we know that person is fake, shallow, liar & unreliable?
Nowadays it is normal for us to suspect things, simply because it is not easy to know whether it is real or fake. Because it is difficult to detect the authentic from artificial or plastic, the durable from disposable, nowadays we do tend to be suspicious of things & even of one another. Same way with our relationships with others, we rather suspect, doubt, and distrust one another, than believe and trust others because it is more challenging to distinguish who are real, honest & smart from fake, deceitful, & shrewd people.
Jesus in our gospel today introduced and made Himself known to us as The Good Shepherd who knows His sheep and His sheep follows Him. As Jesus distinguished Himself from a Hired Worker who work for pay and no concern for the sheep, He reminds us here that as OUR good shepherd He is a hands-on and committed caretaker/caregiver of His sheep who maintains a personal intimate relation with His sheep, and will commit His life to live and work with His fold in life & we, His sheep has a deep faith in Him, our Good Shepherd.
We Christians proclaim that our risen Lord Jesus Christ is OUR good shepherd. We believe that He is our Shepherd, who knows and loves us personally. We also believe that we know Him personally for we know His voice & we follow Him faithfully in life.
Particularly For us Filipino Catholic, we do have special or unique take in knowing our Good Shepherd. We know Him not only because Kilala natin siya but because Dama natin siya – not only because we know Him but moreso because we feel Him. Culturally sense-feeling perceptions are important to us, Filipino Christians. Like,… I may know you, but I may not feel you. I may feel you though I may not know you. (Kilala kita, pero di kita ramdam. Ramdam kita kahit di kita kilala). This is how we distinguish real from fake & how we discern good & bad.
Same way as we Filipinos have this natural felt-instinct & sense to distinguish the real from fake, to discern the good from evil, we also come to be familiar with & know more the shepherd’s voice through our gut-sense and feelings. Same way as the mother knows the child instinctively & the child knows the mother by sense & instinct, we do come to know the risen Lord as our true Good Shepherd in life not only by our volition, consent & reasonings, but most of all through our sense & feeling perception (damdamin at kalooban). Feel/Ramdam ko Siya. Feel/Ramdam natin Siya.
By our sense-perception & feeling-gut insights, we come to know the risen Lord with us – in person & in flesh. Knowing the Shepherd is thus not only for us an intellectual or cognitive familiarity but more so a deep felt-sense knowledge and insight of His presence, love & blessing.
Same deep-sense knowledge and insight would also guide us in tomorrow’s National & Local Election as we choose & vote for our coming political leaders. By the same gut-feeling insight, we know who will be good or bad, real, or fake, sincere or corrupt for the future ahead of us.
We pray then that the Easter Season this year be our moment to enhance and improve our special felt-sense of knowing our True & Good Shepherd, so that we may not be gone astray from His fold but rather have a much deeper relationship with Him, and be always attuned with His will & plan for us now, especially during these pandemic times & for the future of our society, nation & world ahead.
So Help Us, God. So May it Be. Amen.