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 13:14, 43-52; Ps.99; 2nd Reading – Ap.7:9, 14-17; Gospel – Jn.10:27-30]

“THEY FOLLOW ME”

Although we are still in the Easter season, today’s gospel does not speak about (or is even remotely connected to) the Resurrection of the Lord. Today’s theme seems to be taken from the second part of last Sunday’s Gospel when Jesus asked Peter to “feed the lambs” and to “look after and feed His (Jesus’) sheep”. This week, all our attention is concentrated more on the sheep. Jesus is specifically talking about ‘his’ sheep and the relationship created between Him and his sheep. We can say that Jesus has quite a positive attitude towards them, using words of praise for His sheep. He ends up talking about the Father and thence, the relationship between Him (Jesus) and the Father himself.

Jesus is saying that the sheep that belong to him listen to his voice. He knows them and they follow Him – the scenario Jesus is portraying is that the sheep belong to him i.e. He is the Proprietor of the sheep. At the same time, although we are not specifically told, Jesus is presenting himself not only as the Proprietor, but also as the Shepherd of these sheep. Jesus is the Shepherd because He knows his sheep, they follow him and they listen to his voice. Jesus being the sheep’s Proprietor and Shepherd gives them eternal life. While under Jesus’ protection, the sheep are secure and will never get lost. Jesus’ protection is so strong that no one can ever steal them from him. And even if, for any reason, Jesus cannot defend his sheep, there will always be the Father who will protect and defend them himself because He (the Father) is greater than anyone and the sheep belong to the Father as well!

Although the sheep’s protection is quite straight forward, simple and clear to understand, it seems difficult to understand how did Jesus become the Proprietor and the Shepherd of these Sheep?  Let us look again at the Gospel … we see that Jesus himself tells us that the sheep become part of this flock not because they are “born” into it … but because they “listen” to His voice, they know Him and they follow Him. If these are the conditions which makes a sheep part of this sheepfold, then every single Sheep has the freedom to decide for itself if it wants to be part of his flock or not. The sheep can have the benefit of Jesus’ offer … so long as it is part of his flock!  The sheep can decide if it wants Jesus to be its Proprietor and Shepherd, or if it wants someone else … The sheep can decide if it wants eternal life, or else it (sometimes) can choose to wander off and worse still “get lost” and wants to be stolen because it runs away from the protection of Jesus and of the Father Himself – it all depends on the Sheep itself.

Jesus is offering so much for the good of the sheep … e.g. eternal life, assurance, stability… while the sheep need not offer anything back in return – except to make the free choice to gain all the benefit from Jesus’ offer. In all its simplicity, the sheep has only to accept or not accept Jesus’ offer. So, what about us? Are we going to accept Jesus’ offer? Or are we going to remain indifferent to His love?

Lord, you are the Shepherd. You want to gather all your sheep under your guiding knowledge and wisdom. Give us the serenity that we need to be able to make our choice according to your untiring love towards us.  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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