Gospel Reflections (John 10:11-18)

Each year on this 4th Sunday of Easter there is a reading from John about the Good Shepherd. To think of ourselves as woolly and cuddly sheep, obedient to the shepherd, would be a mistake. Sheep are renowned as being silly, contradictory creatures, always starting off in the wrong direction, getting themselves into tangles and difficulties. In the Holy Land they are scraggy beasts, pastured on rocky and often dangerous ground, amid boulders and cliffs, threatened by wild animals and marauders. It was not simply a matter of the shepherd sitting on a rock and idly playing his pipe. He needed to be on the alert to save the sheep from hurting themselves. So Jesus as the good shepherd is kept well occupied by our foibles, our stubbornness, our mistakes and our fears. Again, as in this Sunday’s other two readings, there is the reassurance of a close relationship with the Father. Jesus knows us intimately, just as he knows the Father. It is questionable whether in real life a shepherd should lay down his life for his sheep. What would happen to the remainder of the flock? But it is an expression of Jesus’ whole-hearted devotion to the flock that he shepherds. What is a shepherd’s job with the sheep? How can Jesus act as your shepherd? Who do you think of as shepherds in your life? What do you value most in those who guide you?

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