During the continuing Easter season, we contemplate the gospel – what God has done for us. God promised Adam and Eve a savior, and to Ezekiel He promised that He himself would save His people. Christ, as the offspring of woman and the Son of God, fulfills both promises. He is our good shepherd, who bore our sins, laid down His life, and took it up again. By human reason, it makes no sense for a shepherd to die for sheep, or for God to die for the humans He created – but God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His love for us exceeds our ability to understand it. We may be sheep – easily scattered, distractable, wandering heedlessly – but may God bless us and keep us in the arms of His Good Shepherd, Christ Jesus. God grant that we listen to His voice when He calls us – this week and always.
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Ezekiel, chapter 34, verses 11-16:
“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
The Epistle lesson is from 1 Peter, chapter 2, verses 21-25:
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
The Gospel for the third Sunday of Easter is from John, chapter 10, verses 11-16:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Jubilee Museum and Catholic Cultural Center (Columbus, Ohio) – stained glass, The Good Shepherd
Nheyob [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]