Fourth Sunday (John 10:27-30)
Having listened to the accounts of the appearances of the risen Jesus in the Gospel of John we now consider some of the words of Jesus from earlier in the gospel, which richly illustrate his mission and identity. We read from the Gospel of John throughout the easter period due to its profound insights into the person and work of Jesus. It is most appropriate to reflect on these deep truths and rich images as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of his new life to us.
Today’s passage is renowned for Jesus’ words: ‘I am the good shepherd’. In fact, the chapter includes various sayings of Jesus relating to the image of the shepherd and his sheep. The use of this image, or parable, takes us back into the books of the Old Testament, where God is on several occasions described as a shepherd who has care for the sheep. The most famous instance of this is of course Psalm 22 (23), which begins with the words ‘The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want’.
Despite the brevity of today’s passage from John’s gospel, several important themes of the gospel occur. ‘Belonging to Christ’ as sheep to a shepherd presupposes hearing and accepting the word. In John’s gospel we know Christ himself as ‘the Word’.
Finally, Jesus speaks of his relationship with the Father. ‘The Father and I are one’ is a statement of enormous importance in helping us to understand the person of Jesus and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
How do I respond to the call to follow Christ as my shepherd?
What conclusion does this gospel passage provide?
We pray for a deeper sense of belonging to the world-wide ‘flock of Christ’.
We pray for reverence and love for the mystery of God, who is Three in One.
Fifth Sunday (John 13:31-35)
One of the particular features of the Gospel of John is the discourse given by Jesus at the Last Supper. It is remarkable that five whole chapters of the gospel are dedicated to these words of Jesus, which are often referred to as the ‘farewell discourse’. These speeches provide rich material for Christian reflection throughout the Easter period.
This passage is in two parts. Verses 31 and 32 follow on from the departure of Judas from the company of the disciples and of Jesus. John had written in verse 30: ‘As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. Night had fallen’. Judas departs into the night, where evil is plotted. By contrast, Jesus speaks of his glorification.
The word for ‘glory’, doxa in Greek, appears in the Prologue to John’s gospel. Contemplating the whole mystery of the coming of the Son of God, the evangelist writes that ‘we have seen his glory’. The ‘glory’ of Christ is the whole mystery by which he reveals the true nature of the Father, the true nature of God. This ‘glory’ is not fully revealed until the ‘hour’ of Jesus, the time of his cross and resurrection. In his death and resurrection the ‘glory’ of God, the self-giving, loving-kindness of God, is indeed revealed. The glory of the Son shows the glory of the Father.
Since we have been reborn in the death and resurrection of Christ, since we too have somehow ‘seen his glory’, then our lives are changed. We live according to the ‘new commandment’ Jesus speaks about. The love we practise imitates the love of Christ, the love seen in his glory and resurrection, a self-giving love which is lived out in daily commitment. Through this love, ‘everyone will know that you are my disciples’.
What does the death and resurrection of Christ mean to me?
How can I imitate the love of Christ more fully?
We pray for a true understanding of the glory of Christ.
We pray that our example will draw others to Christ. Fr Adrian Graffy