4th Sun Easter
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
There are a number of elements that form the background to this Sunday’s Gospel. Firstly there is the biblical tradition of the shepherd-leader of Israel. This image was used of David and the kings but after failure of the monarchy, the prophets looked towards a messianic figure who would truly lead Israel in the ways of God. There was another tradition that saw God as the shepherd of Israel, firstly when leading the people through the desert. Later the prophets used this image to express God’s care over the people when they were in exile.
The immediate context of this reading is a polemic between Jesus and ‘the Jews’ and ‘some Pharisees’ after the healing of the man born blind. These two groups are in actual fact the religious authorities who objected to Jesus healing on the Sabbath: he had broken their interpretation of the Law. Because they fail to see the power of God in his saving acts, they not only show that they are blind but also that they are failures as true shepherds of the people. When Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd he actually says, “I am the Shepherd, the Good One”, contrasting himself with the ones who were not.
But not all of this reading is polemical: halfway through, the tone changes. When Jesus says “I am the Good Shepherd” the second time, it is to speak of the great intimacy of love that exists between him and his followers. This intimacy is modelled on his relationship with the Father and its power is shown in Jesus’ capacity to freely give up his life and take it back again. Truly it is love stronger than death.