April 18, 2013

4th Sunday of Easter - C


The Good Shepherd Who Gives Life

Jesus speaks these words recorded in John 10 while he is in the Temple for the Feast of Dedication.  

This annual event celebrates the rededication of the Temple after it was desecrated by the gentiles in 164 BC.  

At the time, some of Jewish political and religious leaders sided with the invading forces of Syria under Antiochus IV for position and power.  Their following of Antiochus, who called himself “Epiphanes” (“the manifest god”) caused the destruction of the Temple and the death of many devout Jews.  

Eventually, under the leadership of Mattathias and his son, Judas Maccabeus, the Jews defeated the Syrians, reclaimed their nation, and rededicated the Temple. [1]

In that context of the celebration of Dedication, Jesus speaks of himself as “the good shepherd” (10:14). 

Unlike the leaders who betrayed their nation and their people, the Good Shepherd knows the sheep and gives them eternal life by giving up his own life.   Thus, “they shall never perish.”

[1] Francis J. Moloney, SDB., The Gospel of John.  Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN. Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 313.

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