(4th Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday, Vocations Sunday)
I sometimes wonder who made the decision to carve out the various Gospel passages for Mass. Take this Sunday’s passage for example; it seems a bit strange to give us only 3 verses (John 10:27-30) of Chapter ten. Furthermore, to understand the passage in the right context, one practically has to read the whole of Chapter Ten, and know something from the Old Testament and life in ancient societies.
In ancient societies the people often looked to gifted and righteous rulers for happiness and security. (Perhaps things have not changed! Just look at the buzz of the birth of a royal baby dominate our news!) The Israelites of the Old Testament saw such a ruler also as a pastor or shepherd, and the ideal shepherd is well described in the Old Testament (c.f. Ezekiel 34, Psalm 72). A beneficent king in the Greek speaking world was often given the title ‘Saviour’ (sótér). History, however, has shown that like all men tarnished by sin, even the best of rulers, were unfaithful to their charge, and so the Lord promised he would himself raise up a shepherd: ‘I shall raise up one shepherd, my servant David, and put him in charge of them to pasture them…’ (Ezek. 34 :23; cf. Jer. 33 :14-16). This messianic shepherd is first and foremost a king, one who would rule justly and benevolently: the Good Shepherd. All the imageries of the prophecy and hope become a reality in the person of Christ.
Christ is the Good Shepherd, the fulfilment of the Old Testament Prophecies.
Chapter ten of John’s Gospel describes the love between the true Shepherd and His sheep. He knows his own, and they know Him; He gives His life for them. Also in Chapter ten, Jesus talks of himself as the “gate of the sheepfold”. Through Him, and only through Him, can one enter the fold and be saved. John presents to his reader, Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Alleluia, He is Risen, Fr Michael
The 4th Sunday of Easter is the called Good Shepherd Sunday, and for the half a century, has been used to promote vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life. It is also the World Day of Prayer for vocations. Pray for priests after the heart of Christ.