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Gospel reflection

April 21, 2024: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Gospel: John 10: 11-18

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 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, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”


Everyone loves the good shepherd! I imagine myself, a rather old and slightly cantankerous ewe, lying as near my shepherd as I can, just glad to be near him and feel his protection. But there’s more to this Gospel than just good vibes. Jesus gets really specific about the difference between him and a “hired man,” who “works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” Don’t we all know “shepherds” like this? Megachurch pastors, folks dressed up as church leaders who care more about the money than the “sheep”? Politicians who refuse to demonstrate charity toward those on the margins? Jesus makes a very black and white differentiation between the two. Am I consistently looking for good shepherds in my life? What is my responsibility if I find myself in the presence of a bad shepherd?


One: In our first reading, Peter speaks of “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” The good shepherd, too, is the one who lays down his life for his sheep. There is no ascending without descending, no rising up without making ourselves servants first. The leader serves, and the last shall be first. Where in your life are you a leader? How can you follow the example of the good shepherd in your leadership?

Two: Rewrite the story of the good shepherd using an occupation more relevant to you — perhaps your own. What qualities does “the good ­­[doctor, teacher, accountant, manager, etc.]” embody?

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Lori Strawn

Lori Strawn

Providence Associate Lori Strawn is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Witchita, Kansas. A 1987 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Lori formerly served on the advisory board for the Providence Associates.

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