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Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today’s reading follows the story of the blind man cured by Jesus (John 9). Ironically, he could see much more clearly than the Jewish leaders who were spiritually blind. These are depicted as the hired men who have no care for the sheep and who abandon them to be the prey of wolves. In contrast, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down his life for Hs sheep. Most shepherds guarding their flocks would not expect to die, but this one is very special in that he is prepared to do this. He is also seen as the Lamb of God who suffers with the flock. He knows his sheep; he calls each one by name (John 10:3). This is a very personal relationship which he has with each one of us. Neither is his love in any way exclusive, for he will draw in other sheep. He is the shepherd of all.

Peter was told to feed his sheep (John 21:15-18). Feeding means nourishing, not issuing many regulations like the Pharisees did. It means preaching the word and providing the Eucharist. It means searching for those who have lost their way and embracing the marginalised. Today we are asked to pray for vocations. May the Lord send the kind of people who will care for the sheep in the same way as the Good Shepherd does.