First Reading: Acts 2:14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:25
Gospel: John 10:1-10
Link to readings.
The fourth Sunday after Easter is traditionally known as ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’. For those of us who live in rural areas, a shepherd and his dog are a familiar sight. In the Middle East, however, a shepherd does not use dogs, he walks ahead of the flock and the sheep follow him. They recognise his voice.
I become still and take time to reflect on the presence of God all around me, within me. I listen intently:
Among the many voices speaking to me in my heart, do I recognise his voice calling me?
I take time to tell him how I feel today as one trusted friend speaks to another.
I look at the path he is showing me, inviting me to follow him, and offering me the protection of his arms. What response do I make?
Finally, I bring my prayer to a close and give glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
This very familiar psalm is worth praying many times. I may pray it, verse by verse, as the story of my life in which God has been a shepherd to me directly and through others, and in which I have been a shepherd to others. I may pray it as the life of Jesus – the true shepherd who is my model. What particular part of Jesus’ life as shepherd attracts me? How, perhaps, is he calling me to imitate him? I may pray it as though I am in the shoes of those who suffer in our world today. In whose shoes will I stand? What is my prayer to God as that person/persons? I draw my prayer to a close in whatever way is appropriate.
From the earliest times – even in the Catacombs, the Church has used the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd. At that time the shepherd’s care for his sheep was personalised – he knew each by name – a fine model for the love of Jesus for his disciples, and for each of us. The gate of the sheepfold was a symbol of unity among divided Christians – quite an issue for John’s followers – and again for us. ‘The shepherd of Israel’ is one of the Old Testament images of God who led them his people out of slavery into the green pastures of the promised land.
I meet the risen Jesus – the shepherd who gave his life for me. I ask him to help me become still so that I can open my heart to hear his word and let it touch me. Speak Lord Jesus! I may like to speak to him about my joys; my gratitude for the blessings I have; my problems and sorrows; my hopes for myself and for others. Lord Jesus, may I have your life ‘and have it to the full.’ I ask for renewed trust in his care and guidance as he leads me in my daily life and – finally – to heaven and union with God.
Reflections from www.pathwaystogod.org from the Jesuits in Britain.