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Leading God's people to pasture

BY SISTER HILDEGARD RYAN OSB

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 is the Fourth Sunday of Easter.  It is also Good Shepherd  Sunday, and a day of prayer for all forms of Christian vocation.

Lectio:  Read the Gospel from John 10:11-18.

Father Karl Rahner reminds us that the image of the “good shepherd” comes from the Old Testament, and that it was usual in ancient times to call those who ruled the nations, shepherds of their people.  He continues:  “The image was perfectly intelligible to the people of that time.  They pictured a person going before his flock, feeding and guiding them, leading them to pasture, defending them, looking after them.  And the people of that time modestly pictured themselves as the ones led and protected by a higher wisdom and a higher power. 

No one thought the image was degrading; people knew that they were in good hands; and so in Psalms and elsewhere in the Old Testament, God is called the ruler and governor of the people, the creator and the Lord, the provident, faithful, loving, mighty prince, the shepherd of the people.”  (The Great Church Year, pages 197-198).  So, as followers of Christ, can we modestly picture ourselves as the ones led and protected by a higher wisdom and a higher power than our own?  In the answer to that question lies our freedom, or continued slavery.  The choice is ours to make.  We can let God lead, or we can insist that we remain in control of our lives.

Read the Gospel story again and ponder over a few days.  Make your response to the text.  I share my response in Evangelizatio No. 1

Evangelizatio is my LIVED RESPONSE to the sacred scriptures given to me each week by the Church for my formation as a Christian.  If I don’t respond, they are merely texts on a page.  When I do respond, they are my life.

Pope John XXIII once said:  “Every day is the right day for the lost sheep to return to the care of the tender shepherd, who calls to it and goes out to seek it with great longing.”  As one who needs finding and carrying home, I am responding to this Gospel text. 

I am challenged again by the Name of Jesus.  Jesus proclaims “I am” – and thus the proclamation, according to one writer, has the nature of a solemn, and theophanic discourse.  I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD, meets all the other I AM sayings of John’s Gospel, and harks back to the revelation of the Divine Name in the Book of Exodus.  I need to hear this text as a solemn manifestation of the nature of Christ.  I need to hear this text as one which is always new.  I need to hear this text as an assurance of the unfailing presence of my Saviour – my holiness, my wisdom, my strength, my guide, my healer.  

(Lectio Divina is Holy Reading, that is, reading of the Sacred Scriptures.  It is a way of life, not a method of prayer.  It is about reading (and listening), reflecting, praying in tune with the Holy Spirit within me, resting in God, responding in the way I live, and continually pondering on the Scriptures).  

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From St Mary’s, North Sydney. The first Mass of the day on YouTube

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Live streamed from Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara

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