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Gospel Reading for April 21, 2024 – John 10: 11-18

BELOVED

Good Shepherd Sunday

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.”

————

Why did Jesus use the metaphor of the Good Shepherd? Was it because it was a common occupation during his time? Or, was it because sheep are known to have very strong flocking and following instincts, and if misled to dangerous paths, the life of the whole flock will be at risk, like the death of 400 sheep in Eastern Turkey in 2006 when one attempted to cross a 15 meter deep ravine and all others followed. Perhaps, Jesus was describing our vulnerability as human beings to all kinds of predators, especially the most wicked one – the devil. If we flock together as his Church, and follow him wherever he leads us, we are assured of safety.

We also take note that sheep were often used as sacrificial offering by the Jews. It is the reverse here. It is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. What Jesus is saying here is very simple: WE ARE HIS BELOVED.

Let us pray that we be good shepherds of those given to our care – the members of our family, relatives, friends, people who work for us, people we work with, etc.. We pray too, for our shepherds in Church, that Jesus the Good Shepherd will always be their source of strength and inspiration as they tirelessly lead their flock to him. Let us also pray for more vocations to the priesthood.

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