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cappie

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

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cappie

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday.  The Gospel is taken from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter  follows Jesus' healing of the man born blind and the rejection of this miracle by the Jewish leaders who question Jesus' authority to heal. Jesus responds to this challenge to his authority by calling himself the Good Shepherd. He is criticizing the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders. Already, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are so angered that they attempt to stone and arrest Jesus. This controversy with the religious leaders continues until Jesus' death.

Set in a moment of tension and conflict, today's Gospel reading is Jesus' answer to the question, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus responds by saying, in essence, “If you have to ask, then you are not one of my sheep.” Then Jesus asserts his unity with the Father. At the conclusion of these words, John reports that the Jews intend to stone Jesus for blasphemy, but he escapes arrest.

 There appeared to be no two ways about it: Either Jesus was correct, and he was the Good Shepherd being opposed by some outsider sheep, or he was a blasphemer who deserved the harshest punishment. The crowd’s violent reaction further illustrates the importance of the question that faces every person: Who is this Jesus? Is he a blasphemer, or is he who he says he is? Is this Jesus the Christ? Is he the Good Shepherd?

In his book Mere Christianity, theologian C.S. Lewis suggested that one might ask if perhaps Jesus was simply a lunatic, but that no one who listened to Jesus’ message about the care and the loving protection of God could seriously argue that Jesus was a madman. Therefore, instead of simply dismissing what Jesus says, we must take his claims seriously.

Many who first heard Jesus’ claims to be one with God demanded evidence, signs that would demonstrate the truth of what he said. They wanted proof. Jesus gave them an answer when declared, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep… No one takes it from me; but I lay it down of my own accord, and I have power to take it up again.” The proof that Jesus gives that he is the Good Shepherd is his loving self-sacrifice for the people of God and the power of his resurrection. Put another way, Good Friday and Easter Morning are the proof that Jesus of Nazareth is who he says he is.

It is evident Jesus has certain expectations of all those who think of themselves as part of his flock. 

The Lord expects his followers to set aside some time each day to shut out the noise and distractions of life. And in the silence, to listen to his voice as he speaks through the scriptures and in the teaching of the Church. The Lord expects his followers to reflect daily on the choices they make and things they do to be certain they are in line with the Gospel and with the example he has set.
 
It is easy to think of ourselves as the good sheep. But if we not are doing our best to truly listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and to faithfully follow him, we are deceiving ourselves. 

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we ought to celebrate God’s great love as it is revealed in Jesus Christ’s total gift of himself on our behalf. He is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep and took it up again, and it is he who has given us the abundance of eternal life. As Christians we receive this gift as we hear Jesus’ voice calling us each by name and  we follow

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