Fourth Sunday of Easter
Jn 10:11-18

Even though there was a great stretch in the evening some were anxious to be on the road home. They were sheepmen from the hill farms in the north and their lambing season was just peaking.

They spoke of twins, triplets, quads and percentages. It was business talk and their livelihood. But there was more. There was commitment to a way of life, care for what had been entrusted to them by God and by the generations who had gone before them. While another might stand in for a day caring for their sheep, they themselves knew their ewes best and would share the joy of successful labor as well as helping those in trouble. Their life was to be shepherds to their own flock. Their committed care reminded me again of why in Hebrew lore one of the most powerful images for God is that of the shepherd. For the Hebrews, the shepherd was the leader, the protector and the nourisher. He knew the best route to travel, how to avoid danger, and where to find food and drink. As well, he would lay down his life for the flock, if needs be. In today's gospel, Jesus takes the title to himself in regard to the whole human family entrusted to him by the Father. It was a role he lived to the full even to death.

In continuing the work of Jesus on earth, the Church in turn gives that title to those who are called to servant leadership among the people of God. So on Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church prays especially for those whose vocation it is to lead God's people in his ways, to protect them from selfish fear and nourish them with the good news and the experience of the Father's love.

The need for such faith-filled, caring commitment was never greater. We pray that many new hearts will heed the call in our time and continue the work of Jesus.

(Commentary by Tom Clancy. Taken from "Preaching the Word", Columba)

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