Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Gospel of John Chapter 10 verses 11-18 The parable of the good shepherd and his sheep is a reference to God’s intimate knowledge of all of us. A good shepherd looks after his flock and knows his sheep. Sheep are not the brightest animals in the world. They seek the security of the flock and blindly follow the lead of the shepherd. When several flocks are grazing together in a field, they are still able to distinguish the voice of their own shepherd and follow his movements, clap, voice, etc. Sheep need a leader not because they are dumb, but because they know they can’t go it alone.
They need someone to lead and to guide them. Jesus is our shepherd. People who truly belong to God listen and believe in the words of Jesus. We must distinguish Jesus’ voice from all the other voices we hear in our daily lives and follow in faith.
The only person who can truly satisfy us is Jesus. If we allow Christ to live in us, we will have an abundant life. His love encourages us and empowers us so that we will obey him out of joy and thankfulness.
Sheep can’t spend their entire lives in the sheepfold. After all, there’s no food in the sheepfold. The sheep might be comfortable and safe in the sheepfold, but the sheep must follow the shepherd out of the fold in order to find sustenance, in order to live. In the same way, Jesus calls out to us. Jesus speaks the word that will bring us out of the places of comfort and safety that we have built around us.
“Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls us to become good shepherds, to mature spiritually, to help others in need and to seek out those who are lost, crushed or oppressed, who have been pushed to the margins of society. Shepherds are the ones who lead those who have been entrusted to them to inner freedom-the freedom to make good choices, to take initiative, and to grow to greater maturity and love.” (Jean Vanier, Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John page 187)
Don’t we all want to experience the joy of living and moving in grace-filled rhythm, in tune with something larger than ourselves? Don’t we all want the sense that we are living and moving in perfect rhythm to the song of the Christian life?
The voice of the good shepherd helps us when we have to make difficult choices-choices about who we are, what we believe, and what really matters to us. Jesus whispers his love for us. Our lives are rooted in faith and give birth to the fruit of today and the seed of tomorrow. In radical love we give ourselves over completely to God.
Mary Colleen Schwarz, OSB