Thursday, 22 April 2021 12:26

4th Sunday of Easter - Good & True Shepherd

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4EWeb400Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’ (John 10:11-18)

 

The 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 a true shepherd prepared to lay down his life for his sheep. He is not like the hired man who runs away when danger appears. He knows his sheep and one day will gather them all into one flock.

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. Like a good shepherd Jesus is the source of life, nourishment, and safety for the sheep.

Notice that the sheep are the centre of both the Father and Jesus’ lives! Jesus gives his all for them. He lays down his life in the face of the evil confronting the sheep and takes it up again in the resurrection.

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 – to take up the risen life of Jesus and be a source of life for others.

One of the very encouraging things about the difficult days of the pandemic was the number of people who became good shepherds to others, providing safety and security to vulnerable people, supporting health workers, providing meals and companionship.

That is what it means to lay down our lives for each other.

Download our Celebrating At Home liturgy for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home Fourth Sunday of Easter [PDF] (366 KB)
default Celebrating At Home Fourth Sunday of Easter [ePub] (884 KB)

 

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