Fourth Sunday of Easter – Sister Helen Bellew, SNDdeN
John 10: 11-18
April 25, 2021
In preparation for this reflection, I took a first focused look at today’s Gospel reading in mid-February. One of my initial thoughts was to find a parallel image in today’s world that would carry the message of the “GOOD SHEPHERD, recognizing at the same time that there are parts of the earth today where this image is still a fact of real life. Off and on for weeks, I tried to imagine a comparable portrayal –my mind or maybe my heart resisting each one. I finally came to the conclusion that the vibrant, perhaps even passionate description of the Good Shepherd in the Gospel, coupled with the experience that many of us have with this image of Jesus, especially in the format of Psalm 23 during funerals and other human, emotional times – perhaps all of this leads us to be familiar and comfortable with this characterization of Jesus.
Beyond the images familiar to us of Jesus with a lamb comfortably nestled on His shoulder, we have symbolic hints and bold statements throughout the Hebrew scriptures and the writings of the New Testament, revealing the RELATIONSHIP that God desires with us. From the significance of covenant in the history of the Israelites, and the promise of a new covenant written on the hearts of God’s people, to the assertion in today’s reading from St. John’s letter that “we are God’s children, and “we shall be like Him” it is clear that the image of the Good Shepherd carries more meaning than merely taking good care of the sheep. When Jesus says “I have other sheep- I HAVE other sheep…they will hear My voice and there shall be one flock, one shepherd”, it is a resounding declaration of God’s universal love, acceptance and desire for all.
If we are all God’s children, then we are all sisters and brothers to each other. If we are to be one flock, with one shepherd, what is our responsibility as members of God’s “household” to help make this happen? In today’s world, in in these tumultuous times, we may be tempted to despair at the magnitude of this effort. Now is the time for us to take inspiration from Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who gave His life so that we could be one with Him.
John 10: 11-18
Jesus said: “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.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Helen Bellew, SNDdeN