April 26th, 2015 – Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year B

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” in reference to the Gospel of the day – always a passage from John, Chapter 10 – in which Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd.

What more powerful, more beloved image of Jesus is there than the Good Shepherd? The notion of the Good Shepherd, of a Shepherd who cares for his flock, or even of God – “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” – conjures up for us images of peace, rest, safety, security – images that are a far cry from the hustle and bustle, the struggles and uncertainties of daily life in the twenty-first century. We appeal to the Good Shepherd when times are tough, when we are in crisis, when we want to be enfolded in the arms of a loving parent who will keep us safe from all harm.
However, the liturgy breaks this image wide open. Christ, the shepherd lead us in our journey to “the joys of heaven” (Collect). Both readings and prayers remind us that our shepherd was rejected and condemned, and so sacrificed his life for our sake.

The Good Shepherd, rather than allowing us to focus on our personal, exclusive relationship with Jesus Christ, invites us to extend the loving embrace of Jesus Christ to the whole world, to those outside the fold, as well as those who are closest to us. That‘s our mission, that’s our task as followers of Jesus in the world today.