May 11, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday because on
this Sunday we hear the Gospel in which Jesus teaches us about the Good
Shepherd. In addition to the Good Shepherd I see two other images that can be
looked at, the Lamb of God and the Good Sheep. This gives us three images in
the Gospel, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God and the Good Sheep.
Gospel John 10:1-10
This passage from John's Gospel takes place when Jesus is in the area of
Jerusalem teaching and performing great deeds. He is preparing to celebrate the
Jewish Feast of the Dedication of the Temple and gives this teaching after the
leaders gave such a difficult time to the man born blind who Jesus healed. He
is responding to their leadership that seems less concerned about the welfare of
the people (sheep) and more concerned with maintaining their places of honor and
control over the people.
Jesus tells the people about the Good Shepherd. His qualities are that of
humility and service, and his motive is care for the sheep. The Good Shepherd
calls his sheep by name, and his sheep recognize his voice. The Good Shepherd
is first and foremost concerned with the welfare of his sheep, even more than
his own welfare. It is obvious to us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and
throughout the last two millennia He has been portrayed as holding a sheep in
numerous works of art. It is consoling to know the depth of love Christ has for
each one of us. He ultimately showed us how deep it is when he put our
redemption ahead of his life as he died upon the cross for us.
In addition to looking at Jesus as the Good Shepherd, one can also look at him
as one of the sheep. For when the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep
he himself became a sheep. At Mass we pray the Lamb of God as part of the
Communion rite. The Jewish Passover practice was to sacrifice the Passover lambs
on the altar in the temple. These lambs would serve as the main dish of the
Passover Dinner. This was an annual sacrifice to recall God delivering the
Israelites from the slavery of Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. On the
Cross Jesus is the Passover Lamb. The Lamb of God is slain once and for all for
our redemption. Through Jesus death on the cross we are set free from sin and
given the opportunity to enter in the glory of his kingdom.
Throughout the Easter Season we celebrate not only the death of the Lamb of God
who takes away the sins of the world, but also his victory over sin and death.
It is this victory we are called to savor during the Easter Season. Christ's
victory is our redemption. The Gospel of the Good Shepherd teaches us how to
embrace the gift of redemption by hearing and recognizing the voice of the Good
Shepherd. There are numerous voices calling us to believe and to practice
things that might seem nice, but are not truly of the Lord. We need to tune our
ears and hearts into recognizing the voice of truth that comes from Jesus, the
Good Shepherd. Just as Jesus is the Good Shepherd, we have the call to be Good
Sheep. Men and women who are able to recognize the voice of the Lord and to
faithfully follow him.
Fr. Killian Loch, O.S.B.