On most of the days of the Easter season, which goes from Easter Sunday until Pentecost, the gospel passage set down to be read at Mass is from the Gospel of John. This gospel, also known as the Fourth Gospel, contains rich teaching and new understandings of Jesus which supplement what is found in the other gospels. Our reading this Sunday is from the tenth chapter of John, in which we are presented with the image of Jesus as the good shepherd.
In the verses read this year there is an additional focus. While Jesus contrasts the shepherd of the sheep with the ‘brigand’ and the ‘stranger’, he goes on to refer to himself as ‘the gate of the sheepfold’. Not only does Jesus lead his people, but he is also the way through which they enter to reach life. The Risen Lord is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6).
Jesus comes ‘so that we may have life and have it to the full’ (verse 10). The Easter season is a prolonged celebration of the gift of life which we receive from the moment of Baptism, and the anticipation of our full sharing in it in the life to come.
The second reading also celebrates the new life of baptism. The image of the shepherd is found here too, as Jesus is called the ‘shepherd and guardian of our souls’.
How effective is the image of Jesus as the ‘good shepherd’?
Does the evangelist’s use of images confuse or enlighten you?
Pray Psalm 22 (23) and ask for a deeper awareness that ‘the Lord is my shepherd’.
We support by our prayer all those called to priesthood and the religious life.