May 13, 2011

4th Sunday of Easter - A


Where does the shepherd come from?

This passage, as proclaimed in church this Sunday, is somewhat taken out of context. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus is here engaged in a discussion with the Pharisees following his healing of the man born blind. [1] (There is only a brief sentence in the passage mentioning the Pharisees as Jesus' audience, "Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them" (v. 6).

Jesus has healed the man on a Sabbath. As a result, after the initial amazement, the Pharisees reject any possible divine origin of the healing and of Jesus himself.

Most significant for our understanding of Jesus' words referring to himself as "the gate for the sheep" is probably the Pharisees' decision to throw the man out after he proclaimed his belief that Jesus was from God (9:34).

Now the distinction is clear between one who "enters the sheepfold through the gate" and one who "climbs over elsewhere," between the shepherd and a thief or a robber.

So, a true shepherd comes to us in Christ's name and leads us to God's pasture.

And as Christians, we are all called to share in Christ's mission of leading others to God. We can do that only through Him, in His name, and following his way.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 289-291.

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