Stay in the Sheepfold With Jesus, the Good Shepherd
User’s Guide to the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Sunday, April 30, is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Mass readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b4, 5, 6; 1 Peter 2:20b-25; John 10:1-10.
Today’s Gospel speaks of our Shepherd, Jesus, and what he offers us. We are called first to recognize him and then to receive his gifts of saving love. Let’s look at both parts.
Recognize Your Shepherd
Jesus says, “The shepherd of the sheep … calls his own sheep by name and leads them out … and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
So the question for us is this: “Are you smarter than a sheep?” Sheep have the remarkable ability to know their master’s voice and instinctively flee from others. Now that’s pretty smart! Sheep may not know how to go to the moon and back, but they do know their master’s voice. In this way, it would seem that sheep are smarter than most of us are! Sadly, many people do not flee voices contrary to Christ’s; instead, many draw close and say, “Tell me more!” Some are drawn so easily to the enemy’s voice, even addicted to it through internet and music.
The goal for us is to be warier, like sheep, to recognize only one voice, that of the Lord speaking though his Church, and fleeing every other voice.
Receive His Salvation
The text says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. … I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
We receive the salvation of the Shepherd in three ways. We:
Accept it: The text says that we are invited to enter through Christ, the gate. We are called to accept the offer of being baptized into Christ Jesus. In today’s first reading, the crowd, repentant and chastened by Peter’s sermon, asks, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. ... Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Yes, we are invited to enter through the gate, to be baptized into Christ Jesus. He is the gate and the way to the Father.
Access it: In accepting baptism, we enter and have access to the wide, green pastures. Jesus describes this entry as “being saved.”
The Greek word here more fully means to be safe, rescued, delivered out of danger and into safety.
God rescues us from the penalty and power of sin — bringing us into his safety and grace. So, for the believer who accepts Christ’s offer, there is access to the protected pasture. The Lord feeds his faithful and brings them strength. Yes, there is access to God’s many gifts!
Abound in it: The Lord concludes by saying that he came so that we might have life more abundantly. This is the fundamental purpose of all he did. Abundant life is really what is meant by “eternal life.” “Eternal” does not refer merely to the length of life, but, even more, to its fullness. And while we will not enjoy this completely until heaven, it does begin now. We, through Christ our good shepherd, gradually become more fully alive, more serene, more confident, freer, and with greater authority over our passions and the negativity of the world. Let us run to Jesus. Flee every other voice. Stay in the sheepfold with Jesus, the Good Shepherd.