The parable of the Good Shepherd is found only in John’s Gospel and it is the only parable in his Gospel. In the first part of the parable (John 10:1-10), Jesus uses the image of a gate. He is the gate through which the sheep pass. In the second part (John 10:11-18), he uses the image of a shepherd. A good shepherd is one who knows his sheep. Jesus knows all his sheep and they know his voice. He is ready to give his life to protect them. The events of Easter proved that he was a true shepherd of his people. Jesus gave up his life freely so that all people might re-establish their relationship with the Father.
In the Gospel of Luke, the Easter story tells us how the women discover the empty tomb and receive a message from two angels. However, the apostles refused to believe their story (Lk 24:1-12). Two other disciples also experience Jesus on their way to Emmaus as they listen to him explaining the Scriptures and finally recognize him in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:13-35). As they return to share their experience with the other apostles, Jesus appears to all of them. He assures them that he has really risen, and he give them a new understanding of the Scriptures. It is with this new understanding of the Scriptures that they are sent out to be his witnesses, starting from Jerusalem. Meeting the risen Jesus always conveys a renewed understanding of what it means to be his follower.
Today’s Gospel shows us Jesus appearing to his disciples. They have locked themselves up in Jerusalem because they were afraid of those who had killed Jesus. Jesus appears among them and gives them his peace. Then he sends them as the Father had sent him. Thomas, one of the disciples was not with them and he will not believe that Jesus has really risen until he has given proof by touching Jesus. However, at the end he does not only touch Jesus but confesses him as “My Lord and my God”. It is important to have seen Jesus; but the real believer is the one who has not seen but yet believes in Jesus as Lord and God.
This Sunday offers us the possibility of listening to some more events of the last week of Jesus’ life, as they are recounted in the last two chapters of Mark (Mk 14-15). The story slows down considerably, and we are able to follow Jesus day by day at the beginning and hour by hour as he gets nearer and nearer to his death. He is symbolically prepared for his death when a woman anoints him with precious perfume (Mk 14: 3-9). He explains his death as giving life for the covenant God is now making with his people (Mk 14:22-25). He is then arrested, condemned and killed (Mk 14:43-15:47). Hs male disciples who should have understood him and stood by him betray and abandon him. He dies isolated from all but acknowledged by a foreigner as God’s Son (Mk 15:39) and watched over by his mother and female disciples.
This Gospel reading is part of the events of Jesus’ ministry before his arrest, judgement and death. John tells us how Jesus is anointed in Bethany by Mary (john 12:1-11), then follows the entry into Jerusalem as a humble Messiah but acclaimed by the people (John 12:12-19). There has been a growing tension in the story. Jesus knows that the end of his is near. The “hour” for which he has come is that of his death. At the same time, it is the hour of his exaltation and glorification by the Father. Like him, believers are also invited to die to themselves to enter more fully into the life of the Father.
The Gospel of today is taken from the last part of the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. The chapter begins as Nicodemus comes to visit Jesus. He is curious to know Jesus better but is afraid of what the people will say; so, he comes at night. Jesus explains that his coming to earth is the expression of the love of God for the world (John 3:16). But to appreciate this fully and to participate in the life of God requires a second birth (John 3:3-8). In the part of the conversation we read today, Jesus speaks of a judgement that is taking place already. It is determined by the way people either choose to accept his light or to continue to dwell in darkness. He also speaks of his coming death as a “lifting up” through his elevation on the cross he will become a source of salvation for all those who believe.
Today’s Gospel tells of Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem at the beginning of his public life. In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, the cleansing of the Temple is placed at the end of life. The disciples remembered it. the Jesus we know is always calm and never resorts to violence.
However, Jesus finds it intolerable that the temple, which is meant to be a place of prayer, has become a market place. To turn religion into a business is an insult to God. Jesus will not allow it. when the heart of our relationship with God is at stake, no effort is too much for him. He much ensure that the poor have as much access to God as the rich.