The Fourth Sunday of Easter:
by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
the Good Shepherd
The church prefers symbolic images to consider Jesus during the Easter season. “I am the vine,” “I am the Bread of Life,” and the description in the gospel for today: “I am the Good Shepherd.”
That’s because we know Jesus now, not by seeing him, but through signs and symbols. Though risen, he is hidden.
“I am the Good Shepherd.” The Old Testament describes God and his relationship to Israel using this same image. So, Psalm 21 begins “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
Jesus, as our Risen Lord, takes up this same role, but his flock goes beyond the people of Israel. Now a world-wide flock is his, and his search for lost sheep goes beyond one nation’s borders. All humanity belongs in his fold.
Far from detaching Jesus from our world, the mystery of the resurrection expands his reach. One sign of his abiding presence in the world is his church, which has its beginning in his resurrection and will continue his mission in time.
The church, like Israel before it, has its promised Shepherd who leads it through dark valleys and paths unknown, until it enters “green pastures.”
We may be like sheep feeding with eyes set on the small plot of life before us, our minds hardly aware a world redeemed by Jesus Christ. But the Good Shepherd is never far away. Though we do not see him, he leads us — the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
The King of love my shepherd is,
Illustration: Jesus as the Good Shepherd - catacomb of Domitilla/Domatilla, c. 200 CE
Whose goodness fails me never;
I nothing lack when I am his
And he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow,
To rest my soul he leads me,
Where fresh and fertile pastures grow,
With heav’nly food he feeds me.
And so though all my length of days
Your goodness fails me never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing your praise
Within your house forever.