Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B
‘They too will listen to my voice …’
Almighty ever-living God,
lead us to a share in the joys of heaven,
so that the humble flock may reach
where the brave Shepherd has gone before.
This Sunday we are invited to deepen our awareness of the protective, caring love that surrounds us, holds us and sustains us. This love was made incarnate in Jesus the Good Shepherd.
In John’s letter (Second Reading), we are encouraged to meditate on the deep love that the Father lavishes upon us, by calling us his children.
Centring our lives on this reality will help us on our pilgrim journey – and this week’s Psalm is associated with pilgrimage, sung by those entering Jerusalem. For us it becomes a resurrection song. The one who was reviled and rejected becomes the cornerstone that our faith is built upon; Christ is our refuge and our strength, and the psalmist reminds us to place our trust in our loving Lord.
In the First Reading, Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, quotes from this same psalm. Christ, who was rejected and condemned by the religious leaders of the time, is the source of Peter’s authority and his gift of healing.
In the Gospel, the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is used to draw out the depth of the love that God has for his people. Jesus lays down his life for us so that we might truly live. By describing himself in this way, Jesus is describing the close, intimate relationship we are each called to have with the living Lord. Although we are many, we are one flock, with one Shepherd who knows each one of us personally. Jesus trusts that we will listen to his voice.
As we pray this week, let us ask for the grace to truly listen with open and accepting hearts to the needs of our community, and to the needs of the earth. May we, too, may become loving shepherds to each other, and to the environment.