Fourth Sunday of Easter April 25

Gospel of John 10:11-18

The good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep

Jesus said:

‘I am the good shepherd:

the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.

The hired person, since they are not the shepherd

and the sheep do not belong to them,

abandons the sheep and runs away

as soon as they see a wolf coming,

and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;

this is because he is only a hired person

and has no concern for the sheep.

‘I am the good shepherd;

I know my own

and my own know me,

just as the Father knows me

and I know the Father;

and I lay down my life for my sheep.

And there are other sheep I have

that are not of this fold,

and these I have to lead as well.

They too will listen to my voice,

and there will be only one flock,

and one shepherd.

‘The Father loves me,

because I lay down my life

in order to take it up again.

No one takes it from me;

I lay it down of my own free will,

and as it is in my power to lay it down,

so it is in my power to take it up again;

and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’

As I reflected on this reading I had just come from reading around the issue of ‘consent’ on social media.

It strikes me how Jesus speaks about mutuality and self giving love in this discourse from John’s Gospel. It also strikes me that  Love is missing from the social media discussions that I had been reading. When love is missing from the relationship there is abandonment and attack and injury  as happens in this Gospel with the ‘hired person’ who ‘has no concern’ in this Gospel.

Jesus, our exemplar of self giving love. (A man who chose to give his life for his friends) tries to describe what love is.

 Firstly, he says It is good

and there is a deep mutuality of knowing involved. ‘I know my own and my own know me’.

Jesus teaches us that love is radical. ie. I love them so much that I am prepared to lay down my life and die for them.

Where does this kind of love come from? ‘Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father’. Jesus shows us what happens when we are in right relationship with our Creator and there is no ego involved, but instead, a reverence and awe for the gift of love that the Creator gives us.

Jesus then describes his concern for the other sheep. A sign of true Love is that it is generative. It always involves others, it can’t help but be aware of others and is life giving for all involved.

Jesus talks about the freedom of choice he has in his relationship with his Father. His trust is complete and in that completeness it is life giving in a way that is beyond our comprehension. 

Despite the incomprehension that might come from pondering a love between Jesus and his Father, the Good News is however, there is only one love. Jesus gives us instructions on how to recognise it by its mutuality, freedom and self giving. We are given the opportunity to explore its depths in our own loving relationships.

In my prayer, I take time to become aware of love in my life. 

I also become aware of the contrary of love. I ponder for a moment what this feels like.

I remember to refer all to God and ask my Loving Creator for a deeper knowing in my relationships.

I take notice of mutuality of love in my life.

I choose to follow goodness and desire to listen more deeply in all my relationships.