Fourth Sunday of Easter: Good Shepherd/Vocation Sunday


Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.  But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”  Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So, Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.  A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”  (John 1: 1-10)

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter.  It is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday and Vocation Sunday.  We recognize that God calls every person to holiness; to love and care for each other. God accompanies us all with tenderness and compassion like a good shepherd in our journey through life.  Jesus is telling his listeners that those who follow him, and his way will find abundant life. He identifies himself both as the shepherd and the gate. The shepherds who are faithful to him are the ones whom the sheep (Jesus’ disciples) should follow.

The relationship between the sheep and their shepherd is based on familiarity. Sheep recognize their shepherd and will not follow a stranger. One time when I was visiting Ireland as we drove through the countryside there were several sheep on the mountainside each one with a distinctive marking.  These markings identified which shepherd they belonged to.  It was so interesting to watch as the shepherds came to collect their sheep.  The sheep knew who to follow and only went with their shepherd.  Let us always follow our true shepherd.