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Youth Ministry Resources - 4th Sunday of Easter

Year A: John 10:1-10 - I am the Good Shepherd - 4th Sunday of Easter

Once again we have one of the "I Am" statements from John who uses this literary emphasis to reveal the identity of Jesus as God's son. Many of us would remember from reading the Hebrew Scriptures that when Moses asked what God's name was when he approached the burning bush, God replied "I AM WHO I AM" and so our minds would make the link between God's name in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus revealing his identity to all who would listen to this passage. So it was for the Jews of Jesus' time. They knew their Scriptures well and so they would immediately understand the importance of the saying.

John uses this writing style eight times during his gospel - I am the bread of life (6:48), Before Abraham was born, I am (8:58), I am the sheep gate and the good shepherd (10:9, 11), I am the resurrection and the life' (11:25), I am the way, the truth and the life (14:6), I am the true vine (15:1). John uses this emphasis to make a most profound point about the identity of Jesus so there is no doubt that his community was following Jesus, the Son of God.

It is possible that there were problems with leadership in the Johannine community because John is using this passage to emphasise that all should listen to the voice of Jesus because he alone provides protection and salvation. Leaders/shepherds enter the fold through the gate and the thieves and brigands (bad leaders) enter through another way. So there are good leaders and bad leaders. The good leaders of God's people must come to them through Jesus who is the gate. The thieves and the brigands will only lead the people to fear and confusion where they will be scattered.

The Cardinals have gathered in Rome to elect a new leader, a new Pope, and throughout this week they have been spending time in prayer so that they are open to the Holy Spirit, so that they listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. This is the case for all levels of leadership in the Church - discernment through prayer is essential. Jesus said that he "has come so that we might have life and have it to the full" a good test of leadership is whether that leader brings life to the community. The role of the community is to pray with their leaders and work together to bring life and love, to be the Body of Christ. If a community is only concerned with criticism or pettiness then they are listening to the voices of the brigands and thieves who would steal them away into the darkness of fear and despair.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: 4th Sunday of Easter

Today's rather short Gospel story is a small part of an extended description of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. John's Gospel has a number of "I am" statements - "I am the vine…", "I am the bread of life…", "I am the way, the truth and the life…" Jesus explains over and over again, that he is the Son of God and that the Father and the Son are one. This naming of Jesus is most powerful, people are not left to wonder if Jesus is a Rabbi or a Teacher, in John's Gospel, Jesus is the Son of God and so people should listen to Jesus. Shepherds during the time of Jesus were reasonably prolific. However, the number of sheep each shepherd cared for was quite small, especially compared to the vast numbers of sheep on stations here in Australia. The picture we are given is one of intimacy where each one is known to the shepherd. That assurance of intimacy is good news for each of us. There are millions of Christians, but we are assured that we are known to God because we listen to God's voice and we follow God.

The Good Shepherd also knows our weaknesses and failings but we are not left behind by the Shepherd. In fact God promises us eternal life. For us, eternal life is our way of participating in God's eternal being and communion of love. This experience of eternal life can begin here and now, we don't have to wait in hope for eternal life when we have died. God's invitation into intimacy through relationship with God is what protects us from 'being lost'.

Sometimes 'church' language can leave us with only part of an understanding of what God is saying to us. We grapple with words to try and name something as amazing as eternal life. For us, God's message is counter-cultural, God is saying that we are a special child of God through our Baptism, and as such God wants to develop an intimate relationship that goes beyond our life here on earth. The media tell us to live in the here and now and that we are only special if we measure up to a certain body shape, age, culture and possessions - if we don't measure up, then we are cast aside. How truly blessed we are to have God's message of love.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 4th Sunday of Easter
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Youth Ministry Resources 4th Sunday of Easter