Fourth Sunday in Easter
Our Gospel reading this week is found in John Chapter 10
One of the beloved images of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel is that of the attentive shepherd. Visual and musical presentations of the shepherding Saviour have long captured artistic imagination. Throughout this Gospel, John accumulates Old Testament metaphors for God and ascribes them to the Incarnate One through the ‘I AM’ declarations. In John 10, Jesus fulfills the hopes of Israel for a good shepherd. Deep in the tradition is this iconic understanding that God will intimately shepherd the people. There are two distinct segments of the passage: verses 1–6 contrast the true shepherd with the ‘thieves’ and ‘bandits’ who harm the sheep; in verses 7–10 the dominant metaphor is that of Jesus as the ‘gate’. In both instances, the discourse is addressed immediately to Jesus’ challengers, presumably the Pharisees of chapter 9, although the whole is obviously intended as instruction for the audience of the Gospel. This portion of the Good Shepherd discourse is the continuation of the efforts to grant sight to those who want to see and is an attempt to provide light to those who are still in the dark. To the religious leaders, Jesus presents a figure of speech, a riddle. For many, Jesus is the riddle. But the question is, do we understand the vision Jesus has for the world? How can we bring others to see this vision and be a part of the fold that will recognise Jesus’ voice? As the blossoms of the Easter lilies fade, we are invited to continue to embrace the riddle of faith: by dying, the shepherd provided abundant life. Yes, our Lord is the Shepherd; God is also our host. The Psalmist says this God is our shepherd, who never stops pursuing us with goodness and kindness. So, let us remember that throughout the entirety of our lives, we should never lose sight that we dwell in the house of the Lord. We rejoice in the constant presence and vigilance of a God who has cared for us, and will always care for us, both as individuals and as a community of the faithful.