Gospel Reflection Questions

Reflection Questions for May 7, 2017 

Saturday, May 6, 2017 2:56:00 PM

May 7, 2017

4th Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday)

John 10:1-10

 

 

[Jesus said:] 1 "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. 2 But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens it for him,

 

and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. 5 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers." 6 Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

 

7 So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came (before me) are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

 

Background:

This text is made up of two parables and an interpretation of those parables that identify Jesus as the gate and the shepherd. The text itself follows John’s account of Jesus’ cure of the man who was born blind. (John 9:1-41) As that text unfolds, the relationship between the Pharisees and Jesus deteriorates, as does the Pharisees’ relationship with the man who was born blind. In a statement addressed to the man who was blind, Jesus says that he came into the world so that those who were blind might see and those who see might become blind. The Pharisees believe that Jesus is talking about them being blind, and they question him about what he meant. He responds, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, 'We see,' so your sin remains.” (John 9:41) This context for today’s gospel text suggests that the text is not only about the quality of care that Jesus has for his disciples, but also about qualities to be considered necessary in those who assume leadership roles within the Christian community.

 

In this text Jesus draws on two familiar roles for people of the day--that of shepherd and that of the keeper of the sheep gate. Most of us have seen pictures and movies of large herds of sheep being driven across long stretches to huge ranges of pasturelands. In Jesus’ day, the norm was to have extended families living together. A common pen held each family’s small flock. The gatekeeper knew which sheep were part of each family’s flock.  Sheep were most often driven, with the shepherd bringing up the rear, looking for stragglers. But there were those who would lead their sheep with a kind of whistle or a call that the sheep recognized and followed. Jesus seemed to take this style of shepherding a step further, suggesting that he is a shepherd who calls each of his sheep by name. His sheep know not only the sound of his voice, but perhaps even the sound of his voice as he calls each by its name. Jesus is a shepherd who knows each of this sheep individually and responds to them. They know him personally and respond to the sound of his voice.

 

The second parable in today’s gospel draws on the role of the one who keeps the sheep while they are held in the pen. He guards the sheep from being taken by someone other than their shepherd, and he protects them as well from wild animals that might take advantage of a young lamb or a weak member of the flock. On occasion, this person might lie down across the opening in the pen so those who desired to enter the pen had to cross over his body, lying across the gate, or the sheep would have to climb over him to leave the pen. This practice was ideal for Jesus to use as an image of how he tends to those within his care. It is also a wonderful image to help us understand the cross and death of Jesus that is the third part of today’s gospel.

 

Jesus is the good shepherd and the sheep gatekeeper who protects his flock. Jesus is unlike the Pharisees, who were unable to help the man born blind, and then when he was cured they ostracized him from the community. Jesus first responds to the man’s need, and then he seeks him out when he is left to live a life isolated from the religious community and his family. Jesus tends to his disciples like a good shepherd who even lays down this life in order that they may be kept from all who would cause them death or harm.

 

Reflection Questions:

1.     What is your experience of sheep and shepherds?

2.     Have there been occasions when it was really important for you to hear the sound of familiar voices?

3.     What do you look for in leaders--in religious, political, and organizational leaders?

4.     How familiar you are with the voice of God in your life?

  • In what ways does God speak to you?
  • When do you listen for the voice of God in your life?
  • How do you recognize the voice of God?

5.     Have there been people who have helped you discern the voice of God from other voices who seemed to be asking you to follow their call? What helped during those times of discernment?

6.     What is the strongest part of this passage for you? What is being said to you?

 

 

On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link: http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx.  You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website. 

 

The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel.

 

To be added to the distribution list, send your name and email address to fr.paul.gallagher.ofm@gmail.com.

 

Please include this information when printing or forwarding.

 

 

Excerpts from the readings for May 7, 2017, the Fourth Sunday of Easter

 

 

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed:

"Let the house of Israel know that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles,

"What are we to do, my brothers?"  Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you,

in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord will call."

He testified with other arguments, exhorting them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added that day.

 

 

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths for his name's sake.

Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side

with your rod and your staff that give me courage.

You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life;

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

 

 

Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that

you should follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten;

instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.

He bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.

By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep,

but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

 

 

Jesus said: "Amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over

elsewhere is a thief and a robber. Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens it, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own 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, 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 to steal and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."

 

 

Excerpts from Acts 2:14A, 36-41; Psalm 23: 1-6; 1 Peter 2:20-25; and John 10:1-10

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