SOUL FOOD FOR YOUNG ADULT COMMUNITIES, April 21, 2013: Fourth Sunday of Easter.
Gospel for this Sunday: John 10: 27-30
LETTER TO SINEAD, MARK AND FRIENDS,- young adults together.
Dear Sinead, Mark, and Friends,
‘The Lamb will be their shepherd’.
There was a Pope who was greatly loved by many of an older generation; he was John the Twenty Third,- loved like our new Pope Francis is. He was only in the job for a few years before dying of cancer, but he began a great renewal in the Catholic Church. He called a world-wide council of all the bishops of the world. It began just over 50 years ago, and, because it took place in the Vatican, it is known as the (Second) Vatican Council. Why do I mention this? Because Pope John wrote a letter to all the Catholic bishops of the world, before the Council began. He encouraged the bishops to be ‘Good Shepherds’ to their people,- but then added ‘but remember, your people are not sheep!’
I mention all this because this Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the Gospel is about
Jesus, the Good Shepherd. And we’re not sheep, either, – we are people, intelligent, questioning, searching, creative, and sometimes lost. A good ‘shepherd’ of people listens to them, knows them by name, knows their needs and questions and doubts and struggles,- and the shepherd never leaves them, but rather would give his very life for them, if needed. And the Latin word for ‘shepherd’ is Pastor! And that’s what any priest is about,- with his people in God’s name, among them, knowing them, having a care for them at all times, and praying for them and carrying them, even as they pray for him and carry him.
The Gospel today,- from Chapter 10 of St. John,- is very short,- just four verses, vv.27-30. The whole chapter is full of ‘shepherd’ imagery- including the words of Jesus ‘I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD’ (verse 14). Today we hear Jesus saying to us: ‘the sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life (-that’s full life, even now!-); they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me. The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father.’
And then Jesus adds: ‘The Father and I are one’. Simple as that! It’s a Wow statement for us,- Jesus and the Father are one! Later, in John’s Gospel, at the Last Supper, Philip says to Jesus, in exasperation almost: ‘Jesus, show us the Father and we will be satisfied!’ And Jesus responds: ‘Philip, have I been with you all this time, and you still do not know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father, so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me’: (That’s in John Chapter 14, verses 8 to 10).
Earlier, John had written, about Jesus of Nazareth: ‘The Word was with God. The Word was God… and the Word became flesh and set up his dwelling among us.’ (John Chapter 1, the very start.) That’s Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Mary, Son of God, we’re talking about,- the Risen Jesus who is among us in our communities and families and hearts, with the wounds in his hands and feet and side. He is LORD!
And by the way, in the first reading for this Sunday,taken from the last book of the Bible,
there is this phrase: ‘the Lamb…will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water.’ That’s Jesus for you!
Hope you like this image of Jesus for yourself, a shepherd who will give his life for us, his ‘sheep’/people/friends.
Thanks! Have a great week! Jesus is Risen!
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R. firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. You can listen on Youtube to all of Chapter 10, in John’s Gospel, about the Shepherd. Click here.