Gospel Reflection for Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C, John 10:27-30)
Sister Veronica Lawson RSM (
Context is important for understanding each Sunday’s gospel. Earlier in this chapter (John 10:11), Jesus has announced, “I am the good shepherd” and some of the features of the earlier part of the chapter recur in today’s gospel selection.
Strangely enough, for the earliest readers of John’s gospel, the term “˜good shepherd’ was something of a contradiction in terms. Most shepherds were known to trespass on the property of others. They thus broke the law and were considered “˜unclean’ according to the Jewish purity laws. A positive image of the shepherd is nonetheless present in
Today’s gospel reading has Jesus say: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” Later, in John’s empty tomb story, Mary Magdalene listens to the voice of Jesus and comes to recognition when he calls her by name. This identifies her as one of Jesus’ own who knows his voice. Her faithful following of Jesus finds expression in her presence at the foot of the cross, as well as her subsequent visit to the tomb.
Eternal life and the oneness of Jesus with God, imaged here as “˜the Father’, are also features of today’s gospel. Both are recurrent themes in John’s gospel. The promise of life in Jesus first appears in the prologue to the gospel, as does the oneness of the “˜Word’ and God.
In John 10:10, Jesus announces: “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Eternal life is abundant, never-ending life. It is the inheritance of those who hear his voice. It is important to note that the translation “˜listen to my voice’ misses some of the resonances of the Greek verb used in the opening verse: “˜hear my voice’ is a better translation. To hear is to follow through with action.