Reflection on the Daily Readings for 5/03/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture for the Fourth Sunday after Easter, May 3, 2009: Acts 4:8-12.
Psalm 118:8-9.21-188.8.131.52. I John 3:1-12. John 10:11-18. Lectionary # 51:
Jesus is known for speaking many colorful stories that have a powerful
message for his listeners whether then or now when we read or listen to
them. A striking difference, however, is found in the speeches and images
that Jesus uses for his listeners in John’s Gospel. Strictly, speaking
there are no parables in John. The word used for the image language of the
Good Shepherd is called PAROIMIA a figure of speech or a concealed image
relating to lofty and transcendent ideas. This Greek word is found only in
John and I Peter. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the
Septuagint) it occurs only 8 times. So we are in the special language of
John’s Gospel when we hear about the Good Shepherd. We recall that the EGO
EIMI statements in John, that is, when Jesus says “I am” he is giving us a
revelation of who he is as the Son of God, the Word made flesh. The figure
of speech is associated with proverb or likeness and similarity in its
basic philological meaning.
John is again revealing to us who Jesus is whenever we hear Jesus say, “I
am…I am the Bread of Life; I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; I am
the true vine, etc.” We are led to focus then on Jesus himself when we
hear this expression, “I am.” Jesus says “I am the Good Shepherd.” It
means much more than being a gifted shepherd. It contains all of the
biblical imagery that is behind the word shepherd when that person lives up
to what a shepherd should be. Perhaps, Psalm 23 which is so well loved and
known, is the best way to see what this means for us as the sheep of God’s
and Jesus’ flock. We are united to the love, concern, protection of God and
Jesus. “The Lord is my Shepherd…I do not lack anything… he leads me in
green pastures. Even the word in Greek for shepherd and sheep are closely
united. The shepherd is Poimen, the flock is called POIMNE. Jesus is the
head of the flock. The theme of Mystical Body of Christ comes easily to
mind as we reflect on what is being said here in the figure of speech about
the Good Shepherd. Communion with God is apparent when we read this psalm
slowly and enter into its imagery and its message. It is the real presence
of God and Jesus that calms our hearts that are refreshed and restored.
Jacob the Patriarch had such a relationship with God. In Genesis 48:15 he
says, “The God who hath been my shepherd all my life long.” God’s love and
guardianship are to be treasured.
Just as the Psalm can help us to understand what Jesus is telling us, so,
too we can turn to other passages that relate to the theme of shepherd. In
Ezekiel we have the differences of a Good Shepherd and a hireling brought
out (see Ezekiel 34:1-31). Two passages from the Synoptic Gospels of Luke
and Matthew also can be meditated upon (see Luke 15:4-7 and Matthew
What is our response to the Gospel? In many ways we are to be good
shepherds to others especially to children, students, parents, to the
elderly, the lonely, the sick, the immigrants, the marginal people. If we
look around we will be able to help one of them; put them on our shoulders
and lead them back to the flock where the good and beautiful shepherd is.
For only Jesus can say in the entire Scriptures I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD.