Fourth Sunday of Easter

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1 Jn 3:12

Jn 10:11-18

The Good Shepherd

In the first reading from the Book of Acts we are told how Peter and John, who had been filled with fear just a few days ago, locked in a room in fear of the people, now stood before the same people unafraid. They were able to courageously testify to all that Jesus had said and done. 

In the reading from 1 John we are told how precious we are in the eyes of God. “Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” This message helps us to understand the gospel reading about the Good Shepherd. The gospel reading begins with Jesus saying, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Over the years the story of the Good Shepherd has touched hearts because the shepherd’s tenderness shown toward the sheep reflects the tenderness of God for us. The message becomes very clear when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” 

This image of Jesus carrying the sheep on his shoulders appeals to us because of the tenderness of Jesus. We see his compassionate care for the lost sheep that was found. This helps us to bring personal meaning to the story because we realize that we are that sheep who is being carried on Jesus’ shoulders. Such an image should reassure us that Jesus is present and supports us throughout our life journeys.  

Seeing Jesus as the Good Shepherd can be consoling when difficult experiences come our way. We can be reassured that we are never alone and that our loving God is always with us carrying us through those hard times. It is up to us to be open to God’s presence and to call out with faith and courage. After all, we are God’s beloved children and Jesus did lay down his life for us. 

The Risen Christ is here now, still loving us, still carrying us in good times and in painful ones. In this Easter season and every day of our lives we have reason to shout Alleluia!

The story of the Good Shepherd is one scriptural image of our loving God. What is your favorite image?

What helps you enjoy the good times and grow through the difficult ones?

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