FOURTH SUNDAY OF
The image of Jesus as the good shepherd is such
a familiar image that it can sometimes become over-familiar and
cease to engage us. Countless works of art have presented this
image literally, picturing Jesus as a shepherd with a crook and
surrounded by sheep or even with a lamb draped around the back
of his neck. The image from this week’s gospel often gets merged
with the image from the parable of the lost sheep that appears
in the gospels of Luke (15:1-7) and Matthew (18:10-14) where artists
frequently place Jesus as the hero of his own parable and portray
him as the ‘good shepherd’ going out to retrieve the one lost
sheep. Such amalgamations of different gospel images can become
very confusing. Some of this confusion and literal interpretation
stems from the gospel writer’s choice of metaphoric language.
In the gospel, Jesus says, ‘I am the good shepherd’, not ‘I am
like the good shepherd’. The writer’s use of metaphor, rather
than simile, provides a much more compelling image but can result
in a more literal interpretation.
The emphasis of the image is on the adjective. Jesus is the good
shepherd. Shepherds generally were not regarded as particularly
good people – more like the scum of the earth! – so the choice
of image is a deliberate one to unsettle the listeners. Unlike
their normal expectation of shepherds – cut-throats who would
run away at the first sign of danger – Jesus is the good shepherd:
the one who does not abandon his flock; the one who has concern
for his sheep; the one who will lay down his own life for his
sheep. The final verses of the passage make an interesting extension
to the image of shepherd and sheep. Unlike the ‘sacrificial lamb’,
the good shepherd chooses to lay down his life and also has the
power to take it up again.
© Fr Greg Sunter
©Creative Ministry Resources
2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING SUNDAY
19th JULY at 11am in SFX Hall.
the people of St Francis Xavier - St Clare parish, seek to live
lives, celebrating God’s presence & our faith values
through worship, outreach, service, justice & hospitality.
our Vision Statement
READINGS THIS WEEK
Peter heals by the power of Jesus.
1 Jn 3:1-2
We are children of God.
The Good Shepherd.