Fourth Sunday of Easter - 7th May, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

Jn 10:1-10

In pious vein today at lunch we were discussing whether children could be pushed into faith or just drawn. Having prepared for this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we were quick to find images of drawing in Jesus’ dealing with his sheep.

Isn’t it mind-blowing how we can always find something new in a familiar reading, in this case a story as familiar as this one about the shepherd being the gate of the sheepfold.
I hadn’t noticed before that the gatekeeper was a different person who opened the gate for the shepherd to come in and call his sheep. But more of that later.


Another thing that struck me was that when Jesus called the names of his sheep – a very
touching detail – they quickly followed him because they recognised his voice. They followed. Jesus went ahead of them, confident that they would follow. I went online to look for pictures of the scene and found a hundred or more, all showing Jesus either leading from the front or in the middle of the group.


I typed in, “Rounding up sheep today” and found dogs doing the job, then finally some shepherds using wheels of one sort or another, but all of them pushing not drawing.
We are the sheep of his flock and I think it is plain to us what our preference would be – to be pushed or to be drawn.

Back to the gatekeeper: is there any sense in which we can see ourselves as the gatekeeper?
Once you think of one, the ideas just keep rolling in. So, over to you.
There is certainly plenty we can learn from the Shepherd and his relationship with his flock, and also from the sheep in this story. We will follow our Shepherd because of a trust born of a touching familiarity with Him.

A trivial note to finish.
A man wanted to have his sheep shorn. He rang the shearing company to book a visit.
“Well, it’s a busy week: Station A has 15,000 sheep – that’ll be two days and a bit. Station B has 8,000 – the rest of that day and half the next. We could come on Thursday. How many sheep have you got?”
“Er, eighteen, the caller replied.”
“18,000 sheep!” the shearer boss exclaimed.
The caller cut in quickly, “Er, no, eighteen sheep.”
There was a pause from the boss and then he asked with mock gentleness, “What are their names?”

Sr Helen Ryan OP