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4th Sunday in Easter (B)

Experiencing the ‘good shepherds’ in our life. JOHN 10: 11–18

By Sr Christina Araujo OP

For the past few Sundays, we have been reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, our beloved Lord. We have been reading and listening to various biblical accounts of how the disciples—individually and as a group—experienced the reality of His Resurrection.

In today’s reading, from the Gospel of John, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, “I am the good shepherd”. He then sets before them the picture of the “good shepherd”, the one who “lays down his life for his sheep”, as contrasted with the “hired man”.

When the flock is threatened by serious danger, the hired man, the one entrusted with the care of the sheep, may run off to save his life. The good shepherd stays to protect the sheep, even when it means giving his own life, as Jesus did.

The crucifix is a vivid reminder of this. Thorns and scourges and nails and a heavy cross did not deter Jesus from His mission to bring full, eternal life for all who would accept it.

Have we experienced someone who was like a good shepherd in our lives? Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher, a friend, a neighbour? Someone took the time to listen to our concerns and our dreams. Someone believed in our ability to be more. Someone gave extra time to help us to find a solution to the problems we were trying to solve. He or she encouraged us, and so we were able to achieve the dream, which God had placed in our hearts.

We became a source of encouragement for others because someone had encouraged us to develop and use our talents, in a way that would make a positive improvement in society. Someone had been a good shepherd for us and we in turn wanted to lay down our lives to help someone else.

Jesus speaks also of other sheep not of this fold. God’s family is huge beyond all barriers. He wants to lead all.

No matter what stage of our life we are at, we can dare to dream of a better world and play our part to bring it about. We can lay down our lives for the sake of God’s people. United with Jesus, we can say, ‘I am the Good Shepherd’.

We are in Him and He is in us. We have a task to perform—to work and pray for a transformed world. But we are not alone. Our God is with us, and in us. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Sr Christina Araujo is a Dominican sister of the Sinsinawa Community.