Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Acts.4:8-12; Ps.117; 2nd Reading – 1Jn.3:1-2; Gospel – Jn.10:11-18]

“I LAY DOWN MY LIFE…”

It is difficult for us to understand the full meaning of the imagery of the shepherd that Jesus is presenting since fewer and fewer of us have the opportunity of experiencing shepherds in action.  In our case, things are rendered more difficult because, since we cannot understand shepherds we cannot therefore know what qualifies a “good” shepherd.

Jesus does not give any definition, but the first thing that he says is that the shepherd cares for his sheep.  Then he continues to say that there is a certain relationship between the shepherd and the flock.  Jesus says that He knows his sheep and his sheep know him.  To know someone in biblical terms is to have a relationship with the same. Jesus is therefore saying that there is a relationship between the shepherd and the sheep and this is similar to

the relationship that exists between the Father and the Son.  The sheep become so dear to the shepherd that they become “one” with him.  They would be united in such a way that the shepherd would be ready to do “anything” for his sheep.  In our case, the shepherd would be ready “to lay down his life” for them.  We know that Jesus did so through his Passion and Death, and we also know that he regained his life back again through the Resurrection.  All “of his own free will”!

Furthermore, Jesus is saying that he will lead not only his own sheep (those who know him and whom he knows!), but also other sheep that are not of the same fold… but who will be ready to listen to his voice!  Therefore another characteristic of the shepherd/sheep relationship is that the sheep listen to (even though they do not always recognize!) the voice of the shepherd.  And if they listen they follow; they do what he says.  If they do not follow, the shepherd cannot lead them and if he cannot do so, this means they have not listened to him!  To listen,

in biblical terms means not only to hear, but also to take action upon what is heard.  There can be sheep who implicitly do what the shepherd says even though they have not had the opportunity to listen to his voice. These are those who do good even though they have not heard the shepherd’s voice.

Thus we can say that the most important thing for the shepherd is to be able to create a relationship with his flock.  Such a relationship is also important for the single sheep, but it takes the form of another important thing – “the following” of what the shepherd says.

Jesus presents himself as “The Good Shepherd”.  Are we giving him the opportunity to build a relationship with us, his flock?  Are we “following” what he says?  Are we, by what we do, qualifying him as being not only a shepherd, but a good one?

Lord, we know you are “the good shepherd” because you gave your life to your flock and regained it back again through the Resurrection.  Lord, quite often we forget that we are part of this flock and quite often we do not know what and who we really are. Give us the courage to create a relationship with you and to learn to hear your voice. Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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