Sunday 7 May
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2.14, 36-41
Even though today much of the agricultural life in the Western world is highly mechanised and systematised, it is not difficult to have an image of sheep and shepherds brought to mind based on either experience or frequent pictures available through the media. What is important to take from the gospel today, however, is that in the parable offered by Jesus how very different is the relationship between shepherd and sheep from contemporary western perception. There is a real emphasis here on the closeness of shepherd and sheep – the sheep ‘hear his voice’, they recognise him, they know him and he calls each one and they respond, they follow him. This is a relationship based on close familiarity: ‘the sheep follow because they know his voice’. This is contrasted with the voice of strangers whom they never follow. The sheep follow because they trust that they will be led to ‘green pastures’, near ‘restful waters’, that they will be guided ‘along the right path’. J
In the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers of Vatican II decreed that: ‘The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word’. (SC.52) The lavish feast of Sacred Scripture at the celebration of the Eucharist is designed to nourish and inspire the faithful. The following reflections on the Sunday readings for the next two months are an attempt to help readers and listeners to both savour and ponder the selected passages so as to be drawn ever closer to the source of that nourishment. The author is a parish priest in Dorset and Vicar General of the Diocese of Plymouth.