Engaging the Gospel – Good Shepherd Sunday

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year B): Gospel – John 10:11-18

The early Church cherished the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, melding today’s Gospel passage with Psalm 23 to reflect upon how the Lord tends and cares for us.

As Benedict XVI observed,

they recognized Christ as the Good Shepherd who leads us through life’s dark valleys…the Shepherd who also knows the way through the night of death and does not abandon me in this final solitude…The sheep that He lovingly carries home on His shoulders is humanity…In His Incarnation and Cross He brings home the stray sheep, humanity; He brings me home, too.

— Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 1, pp. 285-86.

At the same time, the role of shepherd also had royal connotations in the ancient Middle East, where kings described themselves as shepherds of their people. For this reason, the Pope Emeritus explained that “this image of Christ the Good Shepherd is a Gospel of Christ the King” (p. 272).

The Lord established that His sheepfold, the Church, would be guided by human shepherds (Catechism 754, 862).

St John Paul II commented on this solemn responsibility:

As He did with the first disciples, Jesus continues to choose new co-workers to care for His flock through the ministry of the word, the sacraments and the service of charity…The priest [is to] become a living icon of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who gives himself for the flock entrusted to his care.

Homily of April 25, 1999.

Question for reflection: When have I felt the Lord’s special care for me?