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Gospel reflection

April 22, 2018: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Reading: John 10: 11–18

“Jesus said: I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. … I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Reflection:

One method of prayer recommended by spiritual directors is to read a portion of Scripture and notice what particular words of the reading capture one’s attention. The words above captured mine and I wish they hadn’t.

On the one hand, the image of Jesus as loving shepherd who is attentive to all of his followers comforts and encourages me to move forward in living the life Jesus lived. I also appreciate Jesus’ recognition of others who do not know him or the community of believers who surround him.

For me, the words of this passage indicate Jesus envisions one community made up of diverse persons — one flock and one shepherd.

On the other hand, I find myself wondering (or worrying) that these same words of Jesus could be used to legitimize exclusion, intolerance, violence against those persons, faith traditions, economic status, strongly held values, political opinions, life styles that differ from those called “Christian.”

It is clear these words from this Gospel discomfort me. One way I am trying to come to terms with what, to me, seems a landmine of potential rigidity and diviseness is to read the last sentence in this way: “These also Love must lead, and they will hear Love’s voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Action:

I will be more aware of those I experience as not belonging to “this fold.” I will listen for the voice of Love to lead me to ways I can help to participate in the creation of one flock.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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3 Comments

  1. Judy Barad on April 19, 2018 at 12:00 am

    I’ve read this passage differently,so it doesn’t present me with a problem to reconcile. It seems to me that Jesus is saying that though there are different groups of people,at a deeper level than culture we are all interconnected through our relationship with God. When people hear the message or voice of God, then they will appreciate the union we have with one another and with God.

  2. Paula Modaff, S.P. on April 20, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Always, Denise, you challenge me to be more and more deeply inclusive. Thank you for sharing my efforts and thanks be to God who empowers all of us to keep trying.
    gratefully,
    Paula Modaff, S.P.

  3. Larry Antonsen on April 20, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Thank you Denise for your reflection – they just remind me of how much work that I have before me in my life.

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