Sunday, 19 April 2015

I am the good shepherd.

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year B)

The good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.

Welcome to a little liturgy.  If you haven't visited before, you might want to check out "introducing a little liturgy".  This week I am concentrating on the Gospel and will look at sheep and shepherd imagery.  

Summary of Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Acts 4:8-12
Peter tells the people and their leaders that a man has been cured in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  He says that Jesus who was rejected and killed was the "keystone" or corner stone.

Psalm 117
The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone

Second Reading
1 John 3:1-2
God loves us and we can be called God's children.  We cannot know what the future holds but we hope to see God as he really is.  

John 10:11-18
Jesus refers to himself as the "Good Shepherd" who is prepared to die for his sheep.  A good shepherd knows his sheep and will not run away when his sheep are in danger.  He also refers to "other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead aswell".  However, there will only be one flock and one shepherd.  He tells us that he lays down his life at his own free will.  


The readings today focus on our relationships with Jesus.  He is the corner stone - the most important stone in holding a building up and the Good Shepherd who looks after his flock and even endures death to save them.  St John reminds us that we are lucky to be able to call ourselves God's children.  These images all demonstrate how we rely on God to sustain us in our lives - we would crumble like an unsupported building or be eaten by wolves like unprotected sheep if we did not have Jesus.  It is easy to remember Jesus and ask him for help when we are in need.  However, we should remember that he is always with us to accompany us at every moment of our lives and helping us with the general business of living.

Activity during Homily

Today the Communion Antiphon reflects the Gospel:

"The Good Shepherd has risen, who laid down his life for his sheep and willingly died for his flock."

Why do sheep need a shepherd?

1)  to protect them from predators
2)  to lead them to new pastures
3)  to heal their injuries
4)  to make sure they have food and water
5)  to keep them free from dirt and disease
6)  to find them if they get lost
7)  to untangle them if they get stuck in a hedge
8)  to look after their young

Think about the Gospel stories below and see if you can link Jesus' actions to some of the activities above.  Put the numbers of the actions next to the story:

curing the man with leprosy

feeding the five thousand

raising Lazarus from the dead

eating at Zaccheus' house

turning over the stalls of the money lenders

talking to the Samaritan woman at the well

washing the disciples' feet

telling his disciples to allow the children to listen to him

giving a new commandment "love thy neighbour as thyself"

the Crucifixion

explaining the scriptures to the disciples

the Last Supper

Last week we said that God gave us the Church as a kind of map to help us with living.  One way the Church does this is by giving us the Seven Sacraments.  Think about how these link to the role of a shepherd.

Holy Orders
Sacrament of the Sick

Every Bishop has a crozier which is like a shepherd's crook.  A crook was used to rescue sheep and herd them.  This is a symbol of his responsibility to look after his flock.

Other activities and resources

Pope Francis recently told priests and bishops to "be shepherds with the smell of sheep".  What do you think he meant by this?  You might like to see a picture of him doing just this!

Pope Francis the shepherd

Handel wrote a wonderful chorus about sheep going astray as part of "Messiah".  Listen and watch on the link below:

Handel chorus on youtube

Jesus calls  himself "the Good Shepherd" and we are therefore his flock.  However, we also call him the Lamb of God.  The Lamb was sacrificed for his flock.  What do you think about these connected but very different images of the role of Jesus in our lives?


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