Yesterday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, was Good Shepherd Sunday. And yesterday, today and tomorrow, our Gospels come from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel, where Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd.
We listen to this chapter of John on the Good Shepherd after last week listening to the Bread of Life Discourse in Chapter 6 of John. This is no accident. In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict writes that
there is an inner connection bewteen the bread discourse in chapter 6 and the shepherd discourse. In both cases the issue is what man lives on. Philo, the great Jewish philosopher of religion and contemporary of Jesus, said that God, the true Shepherd of his people, had appointed his “firstborn Son,” the Logos, to the office of Shepherd…The Johannine shepherd discourse is not immediately connected with the understanding of Jesus as Logos, and yet – in the specific context of the Gospel of John – the point the discourse is making is that Jesus, being the incarnate Word of God himself, is not just the Shepherd, but also the food, the true “pasture.” He gives life by giving himself, for he is life.
Both the Shepherd and the pasture. The giver of life and life itself. This linkage is implicit in the final line of today’s Gospel. Jesus says, “Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture…I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
There are some wonderful images of Jesus as the Good Shephard. You might sit with one of those images ini connection with praying with Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel. It offers some powerful images to sit with.