One Shepherd

Fourth Sunday of Easter

The 4th week of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday as the Gospel in each of the lectionary cycles focuses on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, found in chapter 10 of John’s Gospel. The images of sheep and shepherd offer an Easter message full of hope. We think of Jesus who can guide and protect us like a shepherd who protects his sheep. Today’s Gospel highlights the gift of eternal life given to the sheep, and establishes the connection between Jesus the Good Shepherd, and God the Father.

The second theme this Sunday is that today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations declared by Pope St. John Paul II, we pray in his words, for priests who are the pastors of the church, “Do not be afraid to open the doors to Christ….” 

Jesus makes three statements in today’s Gospel. Firstly, he knows his sheep and his sheep hear his voice. Just like the Palestinian shepherds in the time of Jesus knew all their sheep by name and the sheep recognized the voice of their shepherd, so Jesus knows us all individually, our faults, our needs and our merits. He loves us as we are, despite our limitations and only asks us to return his love by keeping his words.  Jesus speaks to us at every Mass, through our pastors, through our parents, through our children, friends and through the events in our lives.

The second statement is that he gives eternal life to us, his sheep. Through our Baptism we start our faith journey, strengthened at our Confirmation. He supplies food for our souls in the Holy Eucharist and through his Divine Words in the Holy Bible. The Sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony strengthen us in our quest for Holiness. The third statement is that Jesus protects his sheep, he places us in the loving hands of the Father and no one can snatch us away as long as we seek his protection and guidance.

 It is a message of comfort and as parents we are challenged to be good shepherds to those who we are entrusted to take care of. Often it is within the context of the family where vocations are nurtured. Because of this, parents will always be the first and most important teachers of the faith to their children. Try this week to make time for family prayers, pray before meals or before going to bed, make the sign of the cross as you start a journey in the car, try to make them a regular habit. By doing this we are responding to Jesus’ declaration of the Good Shepherd and are also sowing the seeds of those vocations which are needed to minister to the spiritual needs of the next generation.

A reading from the Gospel of John (Jn 10:27-30) 

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel story is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  1. Pray especially this week that the Holy Spirit will continue calling people from his flock to religious and priestly vocations. That the face of God will smile upon the Church in Malta.  
  2. Jesus puts us in direct contact with God the Father, knowing Jesus means that we also know the Father. Pray the Lord’s Prayer every day this week to honour and acknowledge his love in your life. God never forgets us, so we should not forget Him in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  
  3. Together with your family find the right time to read this Gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare;
    i. The Bible reading from St John (10: 27-30)
    ii. A candle
    iii. Cover the table with a white cloth
    iv. A computer/laptop with the readings and clips
  4. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested).
  5. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  6. Be creative 😊 

Today in the Gospel we are going to hear how Jesus tells us that he cares for his sheep. He is the Good Shepherd who knows, loves, guides and protects his sheep. He shows us the way to eternal life with God.

  • Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He loves and guides us, just as a shepherd guides and cares for his sheep
  • It is important that we listen to the voice of Jesus
  • Sheep template
  • Scissors/glue
  • Cotton wool 
  • Colours

What do you know about sheep? (they have woolly coats). What sound do they make? (Baa, Baa). What do they eat? (grass). Did you know that their wool is used to make clothes? In the time of Jesus people who kept sheep left them outside to wander in the hills looking for food to eat, they needed a shepherd to take care of them. The shepherd’s job was to protect his sheep from danger especially at night when they might be attacked by wolves. Sheep are able to recognise the sound of their shepherd’s voice.  

Not all shepherds are good, but a good shepherd knows every one of his sheep, he knows them all individually. A good shepherd needs to be strong, he needs to be willing to risk his own life for his sheep. A good shepherd needs to be alert as someone might come at night and try to steal one of their sheep. A good shepherd needs to be smart, all of his sheep are different. A good shepherd needs to be patient as some sheep like to wander off on their own. A good shepherd needs to be caring as sheep can easily become sick.

So do you think it is very important for sheep to have a good shepherd? I think it is very important and so did Jesus. That is why Jesus told his disciples that He is the Good Shepherd! What does that mean? It means that those who believe in Him are His sheep, so that means that we are His sheep. It doesn’t mean that we become sheep when we say that we believe in Jesus, it is a way of explaining the kind of relationship we have with Him. When we believe in Jesus and trust Him to take care of and protect us, we belong to Him. Once we become His, nothing can snatch us from His hand and we will know and recognise His voice. Jesus the Good shepherd lay down His life for us by dying on the cross. Jesus the Good Shepherd is strong and will fight to protect you. Jesus the Good Shepherd, is always watching over you. Jesus the Good Shepherd is patient and will never give up on you!

Now you can make your very own sheep to remind you that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Just print the sheep template, colour the face and feet black, stick the cotton wool onto the body to create a woolly coat and because today it is Mother’s Day you could give it to mummy!! 

 Listen to the song:  The Baa Baa Song He’s the Good Shepherd.

Sign of the cross.

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Good Shepherd, for giving your life for us and for caring for us. Help me to listen to your voice and to follow your voice so we may have eternal life with God. Amen

Today’s Gospel teaches us about our relationship with Jesus as His followers. Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. It is important to listen to Him as He loves and cares for each and every one of us and He will never let us go. He gives us eternal life in God.

  • Jesus is a shepherd of people and that because we are Jesus’ followers we are His sheep.
  • Jesus shows us how to live as His followers, he looks after us and cares for us, just as a shepherd looks after his sheep
  • Sheep template
  • Scissors/glue
  • Craft card
  • Colours

In the Gospel today Jesus is talking to his disciples and he is speaking like last week, about his sheep. It is from the Gospel of John where Jesus has been calling himself the Good Shepherd. What do you think Jesus means when he calls himself the Good Shepherd? What does a shepherd do for his sheep? In the time of Jesus, many people had a small flock of sheep and they needed a shepherd to take care of them out on the hillside. The shepherd would know each of his sheep by its name. They were a bit like a pet. Maybe some of you have a pet at home. Many animals make good pets such as dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds and fish. 

If you have a pet you probably gave him/her a name, think about what happens when your pet hears you calling their name. If it’s a dog maybe they wag their tail or lick your face, these are all signs that your pet recognizes you and loves you. 

If you choose to keep a pet, it’s a big responsibility, you must be prepared to take care of them, you need to feed them and give them water. They must be kept clean and safe and if it’s a dog, you need to take them outside for a walk. When we think about all these things we can understand what Jesus was saying when he calls Himself the Good Shepherd. Sheep cannot take care of themselves, they need someone to protect them from harm. Jesus said that He knows his sheep and that they recognize his voice, that no one can snatch them from his hand and that they will never be lost.

Jesus wasn’t really talking about sheep, he was talking about you and me, he was talking about the relationship Jesus has with his followers. We are his sheep because we follow Jesus who loves and takes care of us. Jesus makes sure that we have everything that we need. He was even ready to lay down His life for us by dying on the cross so that we can live with God forever in heaven.

Jesus really loves his sheep, Jesus really loves you and me!

Now you might like to make your own sheep to remember today’s Gospel. Print out the sheep template and follow the assembly instructions. (insert instructions). Maybe when it’s finished you can give it to your mother.

Listen to the song:  Oh, My Shepherd.

Today is also a special day of prayer for vocations to the religious life and the priesthood. To find out more about this follow this link. 

Sign of the cross.

Dear Jesus, help us to listen to your voice, help us to follow you. Today we also pray especially for all mothers who love and care for their children and we pray for more people to become priests and nuns. Amen.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.