Saturday, 02 May 2020 11:09

The Shepherd, the Gate and the Sheepfold

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Jesus the Good ShepherdThe Fourth Sunday of Easter is often called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because no matter what reading cycle we are in, the Gospel always focusses on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This year, the Gospel reading talks about Jesus as the ‘gate of the sheepfold’, that is, Jesus is the one through whom we truly enter into the fold of God.

The reading implies that those who get into the sheepfold some other way bring only disaster and destruction. Those who enter the fold through Christ, the Good Shepherd, will be safe, will be led to good pasture and have life in all its fullness.

Jesus acts towards us like a good shepherd: feeding, nurturing, defending and even laying down his life for us. Our Good Shepherd is deeply concerned about us, the flock and there is a deep sense of warmth and intimacy in the realisation that Jesus knows each one of us by name. Like a good shepherd Jesus is the source of life, nourishment, and safety for the sheep.

Any reflection about Jesus as the Good Shepherd also serves as a reminder that shepherding each other in Jesus’ name is part of the vocation of every disciple. We are very used to thinking about Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but we also need to think about being/becoming good shepherds to each other.

One of the very encouraging things about these difficult days is the number of people who have become good shepherds to others, providing safety and security to vulnerable people, supporting health workers, providing meals and companionship. Yes, there are the ‘thieves and brigands’ too - those preying on others by hiking prices, selling goods which never get delivered and various other online scams. But, like Jesus, we are called to bring life in all its fullness to one another.

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