On the Gospel of John 10:11-18
4th Sunday of Easter
Freedom is a wonderful gift. We can notice the difference that is made when someone is able to think for themselves and stand by their convictions. It has an inspiring effect on everyone they are close to, and makes others feel free to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in. And if the freedom to act is ever taken away, then we realise what a gift we had in our grasp the whole time.
In God’s plan for the world we were made with perfect freedom, and we were made to possess the gift of freedom in abundance. God gave us the capability to be true images and likenesses of him in employing our freedom in good acts and good lives. We were not meant to see freedom as the opportunity to dive into every pleasure that came our way, but rather as the gift of doing what is good and right in endless ways. But our human nature has chosen a different path. We chose not to trust freedom in God, but broke away to vainly attempt to construct our own ‘paradises’ with our own scales of values and desires.
In this Sunday’s Gospel the Good Shepherd is coming out looking for his sheep, the sheep who have gone wandering, and have ended up trapped by ‘hired men’ or ‘wolves’ who have no feelings at heart for them. Jesus Christ is the perfectly free One, who can only utilise his freedom for the good, and is ‘laying down his life of his own free will’. He will give his life for his flock because they are his and he is grieved to see the condition they have been reduced to, how the ‘wolves’ have torn their original greatness and beauty to pieces, and he gives his life so that we may be reborn in the new life of the Resurrection.
When we hear this Sunday’s Gospel we might ask ourselves how do we perceive the Good Shepherd, and do we truly believe he is going looking for his flock with complete free will and out of sheer love for his creation? ‘No one’ could take Jesus’ life from him, it was purely his initiative that won redemption for us. Shouldn’t that give you and me pause for thought when we think about the gifts and talents that God has given us?
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father —and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life —only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
– John 10:11-18