Fourth Sunday in Easter
The Good Shepherd
Points to note
The fourth Sunday of Easter is often known as ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’. In all three years of the cycle, the reading for this Sunday is from the passages about the Good Shepherd in the Jn.
This is one of the most endearing images of Christ: Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In many ways, there are two images of the Good Shepherd. One, as a leader after whom his disciples will follow. And his disciples include us. His disciples will follow him because we know him.
The other image is that of a shepherd risking his life for his sheep, fighting off wolves and the like. Jesus, however, not just risked his life for us, he laid down his life for us. For younger children, you may not wish to emphasise this image if you think the children are not yet matured enough.
The idea of the shepherd who knows his sheep gives us the opportunity to share our names since knowing everybody’s name is one way we can know each other.
The final question in the dialogue on how we show that we are followers of Jesus, flows into next week’s dialogue. So, if you do not complete it, that’s fine. If you do complete it, reprise it next week so that you can follow through with a deeper discussion set out in next week’s leaflet.
Acclamation before the Gospel
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own sheep and my own know me.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All: Glory to you O Lord
“My sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
This is a good opportunity for everybody in the group to share his or her name. Make sure that each gives his name out loud to the group and not just to the facilitator.
Anyone has a dog? Does your dog come when you call? Explain that sheep flocks in the Middle East tend to be small and the many flocks need to search for scarce grazing land. Grazing grounds generally overlap and flocks tend to mix freely. Interestingly, though, when the shepherds leave at dusk, each has no problem in identifying his sheep and leading them home. The sheep all knew their master and each will respond only when its master calls and not another, very much like how dogs recognise their masters.
Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd and that his sheep, i.e., we, know him and will follow him when he calls. How do you think he will call us? By our names. Discuss those who God called by their names: Abraham, Samuel, etc. Discuss how Mary Magdalene did not recognise Jesus at the tomb until he called her by her name. A good example of the sheep who knew the shepherd.
Have you seen how cows are branded? With a red hot metal rod, which then imprints the owner’s name or sign on the side of the cow. Cows are branded so that everyone knows to whom those cows would belong.
If we are Jesus’ sheep, do we also need to be branded like the cows? Yes!! Like the cows, we are branded with Jesus’ name on us. We are all called Christians.