Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)

JOHN 10:11-18

I am the Good Shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.

Biblical scholars tell us that the shepherds of Jesus’ day took the safety of the sheep so seriously that they would lie themselves across the entrance to the sheepfold at night. This would stop both the sheep escaping and any predators entering. The shepherd really did lay down his life for his sheep.

When Jesus speaks of ‘laying down’ and ‘taking up’ we hear the dynamic of the Paschal mystery. In the Fourth Gospel we see Jesus as resolute in his mission and his ‘laying down’ is the means by which we are ‘taken up.’ As the Gospel unfolds we see what it means for Jesus to lay down his life.

Sometimes we encounter times in our lives when we too are called to lay down our lives. This can happen in a gradual way that we barely notice. Or it might be a sudden change of circumstances. Jesus has gone before us. Jesus was assured of the Father’s love when we laid down his life. We are too.

How have you ‘laid down your life’ in this past week?