4th Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:8-12 II:
1 John 3:1-2
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf
snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life
for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them
also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one
17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that
I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have
power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I
have received from my Father."
- (v.11) In Greek, there are two words for "good":
- agathos: the moral quality of a thing;
- kalos: the quality of winsomeness that makes the goodness lovely.
Jesus' description of a "good shepherd" goes beyond efficiency and
fidelity; the word "good" means kalos in "the good shepherd". There is
loveliness as well as strength and power.
- (v.11) The image of "good shepherd" is well known in the Old Testament
Scriptures: Amos (3:12), Exodus (22:13), I Samuel (17:34-36), Isaiah
(31:4). However, " laying down of the shepherd's life" from Jesus is
something new. He is a good shepherd especially because of His willing and
loving self-sacrifice for His sheep.
- (v.14) A good shepherd knows each of his sheep and calls them by name. The
sheep are used to their shepherd's voice, and they recognize him by his
voice. Every day at dawn, the shepherd would open the sheepfold and call out
his sheep. Drawn by the familiar voice of their shepherd, they would gather
round and follow him out of the pen to the pasture.
- (v.12-13) There is a contrast between the good and the bad shepherds, between
the faithful and the unfaithful shepherds. The man who works only for
reward thinks chiefly of money. The man who works for love thinks chiefly
of the people he is trying to serve.
- (v.14-15) For the Hebrews, to know a person means to experience him through
knowledge and love. This mutual "knowing" is the communion of life between
Jesus and disciples through which they come to share what Jesus receives
from the Father.
- (v.16-18) There are 3 great truths:
- only in Jesus Christ that the world can become one;
- the unity comes from the fact that they all hear, answer and obey one
shepherd, not that they are forced into one fold. It is the unity of
loyalty to Jesus Christ.
- the dream of Jesus depends on us. It is we who can help him making the
world one flock under His shepherding.
One Main Point
Safe in God's Hands
As a good shepherd, Jesus did more for His sheep by dying for them. The two
images of Jesus as the good shepherd, and Jesus as the crucified, say
essentially the same thing: he gave up His life for us. The door to
salvation was thrown open to welcome everyone. Salvation is for all who
hear and faithfully follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. Jesus promises
in return to care for and protect His flock. Therefore, the safest place to
be is in the hands of God.
- The sheep recognize their shepherd by his voice. Can you hear Jesus'
voice? In your daily life, how can you recognize and follow Jesus' voice
among different voices around you? Do you think that you are safe in
- Jesus called us for the unity of the world. It is a dream which every
one of us can help Jesus to realize. Think of your family, relatives,
friends and people around you. Do you willingly want to help them to hear,
answer and obey only one "shepherd?" Do you consider this calling as "a
means for service" or as "a career?"
- The image of the good shepherd remind us of the Church. Vatican II
teaches "the Church is a shepherd, the sole and necessary gateway to which
is Christ." Think of the many challenges the Church has to face in today's
life and ask yourself what you can do to respond to the Church's call.
- Contemplate Saint Paul's saying:
"The more clearly we see him,
the more deeply we know him,
the more we become like him."
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A synthesis by the Vietnamese Christian Life (Dong Hanh) Community