22 April, 2018:  Fourth Sunday of Easter  - Cycle B

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

 

Good Shepherd.pg

 

 

     Readings:   Acts 4: 8-12; Ps 118;
                         1 Jn 3: 1-2;  
                         John 10: 11-18


 

 



Gospel
John 10: 11-18
I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
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.
I have other sheep* that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

Reflection
GoodShepherd2The fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday. In each of the three lectionary cycles, our Gospel is taken from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John. In Cycle B, we hear the middle verses of this chapter. Unless we consider this chapter in the greater context of John’s Gospel, we will miss the radical nature of the statement Jesus makes when he declares himself to be the Good Shepherd.

This chapter follows Jesus’ healing of the man born blind and the rejection of this miracle by the Jewish leaders who question Jesus’ authority to heal. Jesus responds to this challenge by calling himself the Good Shepherd. He is criticizing the leadership of the Pharisees and the other Jewish leaders. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are so angry that they attempt to stone and arrest Jesus (see John 10:31,39). This controversy with the religious leaders continues until Jesus’ death.

In the portion of the chapter that we hear proclaimed today, Jesus describes his relationship with his followers as similar to the relationship between a good shepherd and his sheep. As a good shepherd will risk and lay down his life in order to protect his sheep, Jesus willingly sacrifices himself for the sake of his sheep. Jesus contrasts the actions of the good shepherd with the actions of the hired shepherd who abandons the sheep in the face of danger. In the verses following Jesus' teaching, we learn that the Pharisees and the other religious leaders understand that Jesus is referring to them when he describes the hired shepherds.

The concern of a good shepherd for his sheep is part of the shepherd’s job. Jesus says, however, that the actions of the good shepherd are based upon the relationship that develops between the shepherd and the sheep. This is at the heart of the difference between the good shepherd and the hired shepherd. The good shepherd knows the sheep and therefore acts out of love. For the Good Shepherd, this is never simply part of a job; this love-in-action is integral to his identity.

 

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