Sunday Gospel Reflection
Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday)
John 10:1-10 | April 30, 2023
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”
Marj Baynosa, Ministry of Lectors and Commentators
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The Gospel readings for the three liturgical cycles (A, B, and C) are taken from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verses 1 to 30, which contain Jesus’ teaching about himself as the Good Shepherd.
For this cycle, A, the Gospel reading is taken from John 10:1–10, where Jesus uses a sheepfold (or a sheep pen) as a metaphor to describe the Church or community of believers, with himself as the Good Shepherd and also the gate for the sheep. Jesus warns the Pharisees that anyone who tries to enter the sheep pen by some other way, rather than through the gate, is a thief and a robber. He emphasizes that the legitimate way to enter the sheep pen is through the gate. He calls his own sheep by name, implying he knows his sheep intimately and that the shepherd has a close and personal relationship with the sheep. The Good Shepherd leads them out of the sheep pen, and they follow him because they know his voice. Jesus as the Good Shepherd guides his followers in the right path. Jesus goes ahead of his sheep, leading them to pasture while guarding them from harm. Jesus continues to tell the Pharisees that he himself is the “gate for the sheep,” and that whoever enters through this gate will be saved. He then distinguishes himself from the false prophets who came before him, calling them as thieves and robbers whose only aim was to cause destruction and harm. On the other hand, Jesus came offering salvation and an abundant life to his followers.
The first reading (Acts 2:14a, 36-41) is St. Peter’s famous sermon on Pentecost, where he proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ to the people. Although this reading does not explicitly mention the Good Shepherd, we can still make some connections. Firstly, in verse 36, Peter proclaims that “God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” This statement connects to the Good Shepherd metaphor used by Jesus in John 10:11, where he declares that he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep suggesting that Jesus willingly gave up his life on the cross for the sake of his followers, just as a good shepherd would risk his own safety to protect his flock. Secondly, verse 41 says that “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.” This can be seen as a reflection of the Good Shepherd’s desire to gather all his sheep into his fold, as described in John 10:16: “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.”
The second reading, 1 Peter 2:20b-25, can likewise be connected to the parable of the Good Shepherd. St. Peter mentions that Christ suffered for us, giving as an example to follow. The image of the Good Shepherd sacrificing himself for his flock is a powerful one, showing the depth of Jesus’ love for His followers. Bearing “our sins in His body upon the cross”, Jesus’ sacrifice provides a way for His followers to be saved, “so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness” and be reconciled to God. Moreover, the last verse describes how we were like sheep who had gone astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls, echoing verse 4 of the Parable of the Good Shepherd, where Jesus says, “the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”
Overall, the readings on the 4th Sunday of Easter emphasize the importance of recognizing and following Jesus as the Good Shepherd and the only legitimate way to access the community of believers. It warns against false teachers who may seek to deceive and harm the flock. The readings also highlight the central message of our faith that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah. He came to the world to lay down his life for us because of love and to gather all his sheep into his fold. Jesus is the way to redemption and abundant life. We can be assured that in the midst of hardship and suffering, we can find hope and comfort in the knowledge that we are part of his flock, and that he will lead us to safety and eternal life.