Gospel Reflection for Sunday 3rd of May 2020 The 4th Sunday of Easter
Following Jesus and listening to him
The theme and message of the readings today is simple enough; the shepherd, the sheep and the gate to the sheepfold. In the first reading from the letter of St. Peter, says,
‘You had all gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.’
The psalm today is probably the most famous, best known and well-loved psalm, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ These images and are continued in the gospel when Jesus says clearly, ‘I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold.’ This is slightly different from Jesus’ other famous name for himself when he says, ‘I am the Good Shepherd.’
So in fact Jesus is both the shepherd and the gate to the sheepfold! For many, if not most of us today who live in cities, towns, flats and apartments what we are we to make of this rich and ancient farming and rural image of the shepherd and his sheep?
Clearly, you and I are not sheep! But we can draw great meaning and deep comfort from the image of the relationship the shepherd had with his sheep and more importantly, the one Jesus has with each of us. The shepherd was totally dedicated to his sheep.
He spent the night with them and looked after them during the day; leading them to water and food. He guarded and protected them from wild animals and thieves, often standing between them and danger while endangering himself. Once they were all together, he called them by name, they listened to his voice and he led them safely into the sheepfold.
The sheepfold is a place of safety and security offering protection from any danger or threats. The shepherd offers his sheep protection, a place of rest where they will not be hurt, frightened or stolen. In these days that we never thought possible or even imagined, we are in need of safety, protection and reassurance from each other and Jesus, who is both the shepherd and the gate to sheepfold.
No doubt we are all doing what we can to protect ourselves and each other; we are self-isolating and following social distancing when we can go out and we are washing our hands far more often!
Now more than ever we need to turn to Jesus for safety, protection and reassurance. We can’t get through this difficult and often stressful time on our own or by ourselves. Jesus is the one who calls us by our name and invites us to follow him. He will always protect us and lead us to safety. He will not desert nor abandon us.
The psalm today, ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ offers us this assurance every day and every time we pray it. The Lord is our shepherd, there is nothing we shall want; fresh and green are the fields where he gives us rest; he leads us to fresh water to restore our strength. He guides us along the right path; and as we walk through this current time of darkness and difficulty, he is true to his name. Surely goodness and kindness shall be with us all the days of our lives. If ever there was a prayer that we needed for these challenging times, this is it.
Today in our prayer, let us turn to Jesus the shepherd and the gate as he calls us by our name.
Let us have the courage and humility to hear and listen to him. Let turn to him in this our hour of need. He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering them in his arms, holding them close to his heart. (Isaiah 40.11)
-Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel for May 3rd John 10:1-10 ©
Jesus said: ‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’
Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them. So Jesus spoke to them again:
‘I tell you most solemnly, am the gate of the sheepfold.
All others who have come are thieves and brigands;
but the sheep took no notice of them
I am the gate.
Anyone who enters through me will be safe:
he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.
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