Gospel Reflections

4th Sunday of Easter

John 10:27-30

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Gerry Bolzan

Published: May 12, 2019

As I began reflecting on the image of the Good Shepherd, I realized that, in the past, I had clung too strongly to the “warm, fuzzy” images of sheep – perhaps influenced by my childhood songs.  Now I realize that they don’t quite fit my environment.  

For me, today, as someone living in Kenya, another image emerged: that of the relationship between the Maasai warrior and his cattle.  At certain times of the year, when water and pasture are scarce, one sees the Maasai bringing their cattle into the urban areas in search of anything green.  These young men often walk very long distances with their cattle in this search.  I see this as a testimony to the fact that the cows are very important to these people.  They are an important source of food – not as meat, as you might assume, but as a source of milk and blood.  This protein-rich mixture is a very important staple in the Maasai diet.  The bleeding is done in such a way that it does not harm the cows, but rather, sustains their value to the whole community.

While Jesus, our Good Shepherd, did indeed shed his blood for us to the point of death, his victory over death moves him into a state of sustained life-givingness – similar to the Maasai cattle. However, this sustenance from Jesus is so much more than physical food – the life-blood we receive is “heavenly food.”  The images of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, are well illustrated in the well-known song by Henry W. Baker (1821-1877):  The King of Love My Shepherd Is. (Can be found on the internet : both the words and the music).  I encourage you to read (or sing) it very slowly, in an Easter spirit.  Allow yourself to be nourished by the combination of Old and New Testament images, e.g. (verse 5):

“You spread a table in my sight,
Your saving grace bestowing.
And oh what joy and true delight
From your pure chalice flowing.”

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