How the Risen Lord Ministers to Us as the Good Shepherd

User’s Guide to the Fourth Sunday of Easter

‘I am the Good Shepherd,’ Jesus reminds us.
‘I am the Good Shepherd,’ Jesus reminds us. (photo: Shutterstock)

Sunday, April 21, is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Mass readings: Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18.

On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, we turn a corner of sorts. Up until now, we have been reading the Resurrection appearances themselves. Now, we begin to see how the Risen Lord ministers to us as the Good Shepherd. 

In effect, the Lord gives us four basic pictures or teachings of how, as the King of Love, he guides and protects us. 

“Jesus said, ‘I am the Good Shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’” 

Pure love is a hard thing to come by in human relationships. This is our human condition, and few of us rise above it in a consistent way. There remains this problem, including with our Savior: Many Christians have greater loyalty to political leaders, musicians, movies stars and the like than to Jesus Christ. But remember, only Jesus died for you. 

“I know my sheep and mine know me,” Jesus continued. 

No one knows you the way Jesus Christ does: He has always thought about you; he created you; he knit you together in your mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:4); and every one of your days was written in his book before one of them ever came to be (Psalm 139). Jesus also says that his sheep know him. 

Do you know him? To be in the Lord's flock is to know the voice of Jesus and be able to distinguish it from others. But be very careful: Many people today have wanted to remake and refashion the true Jesus of Scripture and thereby distort his voice. One of the most common ways this is done is to screen out his less pleasant teachings such as when he warns (a lot) about judgment and hell or says “woe.” Be wary, therefore, of those who try to distort the voice of Jesus by limiting it. The apostles and Evangelists spoke for him in toto and Jesus continues to speak in the doctrinal teachings of the Church and the living voice of his magisterium, which applies his word given through the apostles.

The Lord also says, “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 and one shepherd.” 

Jesus is not content merely to shepherd a few thousand Jewish disciples in the Holy Land. He wants his love to spread to the whole world. He wants to call every human person into a saving relationship. Part of our journey as disciples is to experience the call to evangelize. But that call will only take flight when Christ’s love for all people fills our hearts. Christ has a persistent love to embrace and hold everyone close to him. Do you sense that love? He wants to draw others to himself, through you, as you evangelize  others. 

 

Pope Francis (R) embraces new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich after he appointed him during an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new cardinals on October 5, 2019 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Pope Francis vs. Cardinal Hollerich

EDITORIAL: The Pope’s comments regarding women’s ordination in his interview with CBS put a damper on the movement to alter the Church’s teaching on the priesthood and diaconate.