‘I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and runs away
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man
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.’
Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Easter
At the heart of Jesus’ ministry as shepherd is courage, love and compassion. This shepherd does not value his own life above those of the sheep, but gives of his life for their well-being.
This ministry is now extended to the Church, the community that knows of the love of the Shepherd, and of how precious all people are in his sight. The ministry is exercised in a variety of manners and in all sorts of circumstances. Perhaps its most usual form is in the ministry of parents caring for their children: but it extends so much more broadly including, for example, social workers, public servants of all kinds as well as clergy and catechists. Sometimes this ministry is exercised well. Always it deserves to be supported by our prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power
above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world,
its Lord, risen and glorified.
Let everyone who approaches the Church
feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate
all the faithful with its anointing,
so that your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus,
through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy;
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Stained Glass. Church of St Giles, Houghton St Giles. (c) 2018, Allen Morris