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Fourth Sunday of Easter

It is all too easy for religious leaders to become involved in partisan politics to the detriment of their spiritual offices .Pierre Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who presided at the trial of St Joan of Arc, was a prime example. He was a Burgundian, whose duchy was allied to the English invaders of France, and he was determined to get rid of someone who was restoring the fortunes of the French state under its rightful king. Likewise the Pharisees, who felt threatened by the miracle Jesus worked in curing the blind man, treated the latter with contempt and threw him out of the temple (John 9:34). This is the background to today’s gospel reading.

A shepherd in the time of Jesus lived with his flock. He would protect them with a roughly-made fence of branches, with a gap for the animals to pass through. He would often sleep in the opening as a defence. When he moved them he would go ahead and they would follow him. He would know each one by name. The imagery Jesus uses is very clear. We are constantly invited to listen to influential voices, who market products, ideas and life styles. There is also the subtle political persuasion by foreign powers. Then there is an ever growing chorus of voices who mock and belittle anything to do with the Catholic faith. None of these have much care or concern for the people they communicate with. Jesus is the one who provides true leadership, who tends his flock and creates a safe space for it.

“Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.” (Matt. 23:10)