Photo: EB Global

A good and beautiful Pastor: a true Pastor.

Commentary on the Gospel of Sunday, April 21, 2024. Four Sunday of Lent.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Mons. Francesco Follo

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 04.17.2024).- Commentary on the Gospel of Sunday, April 21, 2024. Four Sunday of Lent.

The Good Shepherd gives life

The passage from the Gospel of the 4th Sunday of Easter is taken each year from chapter 10 of the Gospel of John and presents Jesus to us as the good shepherd. This year, which is year B, the Liturgy has us read the central part of the chapter, verses 11-18, where it is said that the Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep and knows them.

Unlike the mercenary shepherd who only has interested relationships with the sheep, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows, that is to say, loves his own. The relationships between Jesus and believers are based on knowledge, in the biblical sense of the term: on deep bonds of love. Indeed in the Bible the word “knowledge” implies intimacy and mutual trust. This is the term generally used to describe marital relations: “Adam knew Eve his wife, who conceived and gave birth…” (Gen 4:1); “Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son; you will give him the name Jesus”, announces the angel to Mary, who responds: “How will this be done since I do not know a man? » (Luke 1:31-34). So when Jesus says: “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me,” we understand the depth of his love for us and the depth that he expects from us in return.

These strong bonds of loving knowledge between Jesus and us find their foundation in the relationships that unite Jesus to the Father. These bonds are manifested by giving his life for us (Jn 10:14). This statement is similar to that found in Jn 10:11, but stronger. If in verse 11 “to give life” means to be willing to risk one’s own life for the sheep, in verse 14 it literally means to deprive oneself of life. This total gift of self is the specific attitude of Jesus, the one which characterized his entire mission on earth and not only his passion and his death.

This total gift, a sign of a love ready to give life, brings to the fore the fact that we belong to him: ‘his sheep’, lovingly guarded and guided to life. On the contrary, the mercenaries, the opportunists, treat men as ‘goods’ and not as people.

So, today, let each of us ask ourselves the questions: “Which ‘sheep’ of the flock am I? Am I the sheep ‘lost and found’ or am I still ‘lost’? Am I the sheep who lets herself be led gently, to find rest in Him, am I the ‘wounded or sick’ sheep who lets herself be bandaged or cared for by Him? » If our answer is positive, we will follow Jesus and, when we have difficulty walking, He will carry us on his shoulders.

Follow Christ the Good Shepherd

Following Christ like docile sheep does not mean being naive, foolish and blindly obedient, but means being humble, trusting and letting ourselves be held in the arms, lovingly abandoning ourselves to Him who walks with us and for us. Moreover, being humble and trusting in Jesus does not mean not using intelligence because humility is the virtue which predisposes the intelligence to faith and the heart to love.

Following Christ like sheep conscious of being loved and not rejected people means letting ourselves be guided by Him, our saint and good shepherd, to the eternal meadows of heaven. He is a “pastor” because he is a “lamb”. It is in fact written: “The Lamb will be their shepherd to lead them to the springs of the waters of life” (Rev 7:17).

But let us not forget that Jesus wanted the priest in the Church to be like the “Good Shepherd”. Not only but especially in the parish, the priest continues the mission and pastoral duty of Jesus; he must therefore “shepherd the flock”, by teaching, by giving grace, by defending the “sheep” from error and evil, by consoling but above all by loving.

Even if the way of being a priest changes according to place and time, all priests are called to imitate Christ the Good Shepherd who, unlike the mercenary shepherd, does not seek other interests, does not pursue any other advantage than that to guide, feed, protect his sheep: “so that they may have life, life in abundance” (Jn 10.10).

All pastors

By virtue of baptism, every Christian is called to be a “good shepherd” in his environment:

– Parents must be “Good Shepherds” for their children, edifying them with love;

– Children must obey the love of parents and learn a simple and coherent faith, learning to give the life they have received as a gift;

– The spouses must give an imprint to their relationship as a couple, by conforming to the good shepherd, so that family life is always at this height of feelings and ideals desired by the Creator, to which the family owes its name “Domestic Church »;

– Teachers at school, workers in factories or offices, let each of them always seek to be “a good shepherd” like Jesus.

– But, above all, must be “good shepherds” in society are people consecrated to God: religious men and women, members of a secular institute.

This is why, on this Sunday, we must pray for all religious vocations, male and female, so that in the Church the witness of religious life is ever greater, lively, intense and effective. The world today needs convinced and totally dedicated witnesses more than ever.

I am thinking in particular of the consecrated Virgins who exercise a particular “pastoral minister” in the Church.

Even if their ministry is not an ordained ministry, these consecrated women do not limit themselves to bearing witness to the angelic condition of the children of the Kingdom, by living in virginity. In addition to chastity, which they are called to observe in perfect continence, consecrated Virgins practice their commitment to poverty of heart and life for a serious sharing of human suffering, as well as the obedience that they must bear to God. An obedience which presents itself in the exhortations and precepts of the Church, in the advice and pastoral directives, to meet the needs of people. The Ritual of the consecration of Virgins suggests that they fulfill their service (= ministry) with sobriety in life, with the help of the poor and through acts of penance: “The virgins in the Church are those women who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, take a vow of chastity in order to love Christ with more ardor and serve by devoting themselves more freely to their brothers… They have the duty to respond to works of penance and mercy , to apostolic activity and to prayer” (Ritual of the consecration of the Virgins, 2). Therefore, even if they give primacy to prayer and contemplation, consecrated virgins serve the pastoral ministry of the Church by putting the gift of self at the service (ministry) of the Church, holy fold for saved sheep and in devoting itself to love towards all men and women in the ordinary circumstances of life, so that all may form one thing in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation