4th Sunday of Easter (C)

///John 10:27-30 Commentary – Good Shepherd – 4th Sunday of Easter

///John 10:27-30 Commentary – Good Shepherd – 4th Sunday of Easter

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Good Shepherd

Homilies | John 10:27-30

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Good Shepherd Sunday

SERMON WRITER – John 10:22-30 is a continuation of the Good Shepherd discourse (vv. 1-18), which results in some of “the Jews” accusing him of having a demon (vv. 19-21)… The common lectionary deals with this chapter by spreading it across, not three successive weeks, but three successive years (Easter 4A, 4B, and 4C)—so we cannot expect our congregations to appreciate its linkage to the rest of the chapter.


Let us all become good shepherds

FR TONY KADAVIL – Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd.  Hence, pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds.  We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers.  Parents must be especially careful of their duties, thus giving their children good example through the way they live their Christian lives as husband and wife and as parents.

Shepherd’s Voice (vv 27)

I Know them, and they follow me


27 sheep. ver. John 10:4, 8, 16; ch. 5:25; 8:43. Mat. 17:5. Ac. 3:23. He. 3:7. Re. 3:20. and I. ver. John 10:3, 14. Mat. 7:23; 25:12. Lu. 13:27. 1 Co. 8:3. Ga. 4:9. 2 Ti. 2:19. and they. John 10:4; 8:12; 12:26; 21:22. 1 Ki. 18:21. Mat. 16:24. Mar. 8:34; 10:21. Lu. 9:23. Re. 14:4.


Jesus sees to the depth of the heart

SERMON WRITER – We expect Jesus to say that the sheep follow him because they know him, but instead he says that they follow him because he knows them. We long to be known—to be understood at the deepest levels. Profound intimacy bespeaks profound love. This Gospel makes it clear that Jesus sees to the depth of the heart, and it is no wonder that the sheep perceive that and follow him.

Clipart by Fr. Richard Lonsdale © 2000. Click image to view more clipart for this Sunday.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our consciences, and He shouts to us in our pain!” (C.S. Lewis).


Recognizing Jesus’ Voice

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY –  We recognize His voice through the study of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church.  We will have our eyes opened to Him in the same way that the disciples from Emmaus had their “eyes opened” and recognized Jesus when He blessed and broke the bread in their presence (Lk 24:13-31).  In Luke 24:25-27, He taught them beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.  In that encounter, Jesus teaches two truths:

  1. Belief in Jesus cannot be separated from a proper understanding of the Scriptures.
  2. All Scripture bears a prophetic message and significance concerning Jesus and His mission of salvation.

One cannot truly recognize the Good Shepherd to follow Him or the Divine Presence of Christ in the Eucharist who is One with the Father without studying and understanding the Scriptures.  Jesus of Nazareth, the heir of David (Mt 1:1), is the Shepherd-God promised in the prophecies of Ezekiel when the prophet wrote:

For thus says the Lord GOD [YHWH]: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.  As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so I will tend my sheep.  I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark […]  I will appoint one shepherd over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd. I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them.  I the LORD [YHWH], have spoken (Ez 34:11-1223-24).

Eternal Life (vv. 28a)

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish


28 I give. John 3:16, 36; 5:39, 40; 6:27, 40, 47, 68; 11:25; 17:2. Ro. 5:21; 6:23. 1 Ti. 1:16. 1 Jno. 2:25; 5:13–20. Jude 21. they. John 3:15; 4:14; 5:24; 6:37, 39, 40; 14:19; 17:12; 18:9. 1 Sa. 2:9. Job 17:9. Ps. 37:28; 103:17, 18; 125:1, 2. Pr. 4:18; 24:16. Is. 45:17; 54:17; 55:3. Je. 31:3, 34; 32:40. Mar. 13:22. Ro. 5:2, 9, 17; 8:1, 29, 33–39. Phi. 1:6. Col. 3:3, 4. 2 Th. 2:13. 1 Pe. 1:5. He. 7:25. 1 Jno. 2:19; 5:13, 18. Jude 1, 24. neither. John 17:11, 12. De. 33:3. Ps. 31:5. Lu. 22:31, 32; 23:46. Ac. 7:59. 2 Ti. 1:12. He. 7:25.

B. Blayney, Thomas Scott, and R.A. Torrey with John Canne, Browne, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, vol. 2 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, n.d.), 73.


Life lived in the presence of God

SERMON WRITER – Eternal life in this Gospel is not mere longevity, but is rather life lived in the presence of God. In his High Priestly prayer, Jesus will say, “This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).

FR. KIERAN J. O’MAHONY, OSA – In the Fourth Gospel, eternal life does not mean only or even primarily life after death. It means instead that quality of authentic life, which the believer already has now through faith in Jesus.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (John 3:16). Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).

Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. (John 6:47). And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).

The followers of Jesus are protected: While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. (John 17:12)


What did Jesus mean by never perish?

FR. GEORGE SMIGA – Being a good person does not mean that we will never have to face evil. Being a person of faith does not exempt us from suffering. Coming to church and saying our prayers does not make us more secure at public events or next to fertilizer plants. Faith does not assure us that we are exempt from cancer, or earthquakes, or terrorist attacks.

To put this most bluntly, faith is not primarily about security. It is about a relationship. People who believe are not safer than those who do not believe. But they can be stronger, stronger as they face the evils that come into their lives. They can be stronger because they believe in a God who is with them, a God who has promised them eternal life and a courage to deal with the difficulties of life.

This is why the image that Jesus uses in today’s Gospel is so important. Jesus said that he holds us in his hand and that no one—no evil—will take us from him. That promise is a promise of his presence, a promise that we will be with him. From his presence we will draw guidance, strength, and hope.

Security (vv. 28b)

No one will snatch them out of my hand


28 I give. John 3:16, 36; 5:39, 40; 6:27, 40, 47, 68; 11:25; 17:2. Ro. 5:21; 6:23. 1 Ti. 1:16. 1 Jno. 2:25; 5:13–20. Jude 21. they. John 3:15; 4:14; 5:24; 6:37, 39, 40; 14:19; 17:12; 18:9. 1 Sa. 2:9. Job 17:9. Ps. 37:28; 103:17, 18; 125:1, 2. Pr. 4:18; 24:16. Is. 45:17; 54:17; 55:3. Je. 31:3, 34; 32:40. Mar. 13:22. Ro. 5:2, 9, 17; 8:1, 29, 33–39. Phi. 1:6. Col. 3:3, 4. 2 Th. 2:13. 1 Pe. 1:5. He. 7:25. 1 Jno. 2:19; 5:13, 18. Jude 1, 24. neither. John 17:11, 12. De. 33:3. Ps. 31:5. Lu. 22:31, 32; 23:46. Ac. 7:59. 2 Ti. 1:12. He. 7:25.


Divine security

SERMON WRITER – The security that Jesus offers is not security as the world understands security. The sheep will not perish and no one will snatch them out of Jesus’ hand, but many will die for their faith—or lose their jobs—or be denied opportunity—or suffer ridicule. What they will not lose is their relationship to the Father and the Son or the salvation that relationship brings.

Jesus saves lost sheep

POPE FRANCIS – Our life is fully secure in the hands of Jesus and the Father, which are a single thing: a unique love, a unique mercy, revealed once and for all in the sacrifice of the Cross. To save the lost sheep which we all are, the Shepherd became lamb, and let himself be immolated so as to take upon himself and to take away the sin of the world. In this way he has given us life, life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10)! This mystery is renewed, in an always surprising humility, on the Eucharistic table. It is there that the sheep gather to nourish themselves; it is there that they become one, among themselves and with the Good Shepherd.


SOURCE: James Wetzstein, Lutheran pastor.

My Father… (vv. 29-30)

The Father and I are One


29 which. John:6:37; 17:2, 6, 9, 11. is greater. John:14:28. Ex. 18:11. Ps. 145:3. Da. 4:3. Mal. 1:14.

30 John:1:1, 2; 5:17, 23; 8:58; 14:9, 23; 16:15; 17:10, 21. Mat. 11:27; 28:19. 1 Ti. 3:16. Tit. 2:13. 1 Jno. 5:7, 20.


Inflammatory words

SERMON WRITER –  These are inflammatory words. In fact, if Jesus is not the Messiah, they are blasphemous words. We are reminded of the opening verse of this Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). Later, Jesus will pray that his disciples “may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me” (17:21). At the heart of this Gospel is the unity between the Father and the Son. Jesus prays that his disciples become a part of this unity.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY –  Jesus and the Father are One because they do the same work and stand in the same relation to the “sheep” who are the believers in covenant union with God.  God the Father accomplished His work in the world uniquely through the Son.  The sheep “know” Jesus because they are in a covenantal relationship with Him that creates a holy family bond in which the Holy Spirit permanently marks the baptized believer’s soul (Lk 22:20; CCC 731272).  It is a relationship that promises the blessings of eternal life and a bond with Christ which is unbreakable unless the baptized believer rejects Christ as Savior and Lord, but even in that case, the indelible mark cannot be removed (CCC 1265-1274).


The Oneness of the Most Blessed Trinity

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY –  The oneness of the Most Holy Trinity cannot be divided even when we distinguish between the three Divine Persons.  St. Augustine wrote:

“Listen to the Son himself, ‘I and the Father are one.’  He did not say, ‘I am the Father’ or ‘I and the Father are one [Person].’  But when he says ‘I and the Father are one,’ notice the two words ‘we are’ and ‘one’… for if they are one, then they are not diverse; if ‘we are,’ then there is both a Father and a Son” [In Ioannis Evangelius – The Gospel of John, 36,9]

Jesus is one in substance with the Father as far as divine essence or nature is concerned, but the Father and the Son are distinct Persons.  Pope Paul VI in Creed of the People of God, 1wrote:

“We believe then in the Father who eternally begets the Son; in the Son, the Word of God, who is eternally begotten; in the Holy Spirit, the uncreated Person who proceeds from the Father and the Son as their eternal Love.”

Also see CCC 202252-255590 and the Agape Bible Study document “The Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity“.

CROSS REFERENCES SOURCE: B. Blayney, Thomas Scott, and R.A. Torrey with John Canne, Browne, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, vol. 2 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, n.d.).

We Can Fall From His Hands

Origen: For “no one snatches us away from his hands,” according to what was said in the Gospel according to John. Yet it is not written that just as no one snatches us away, no one also falls from his hands. For one who is self-determined is free. And, I say, no one will snatch us away from the hand of God, no one can take us. But we are able to fall from his hands if we are negligent. HOMILIES ON JEREMIAH 18.3.

SOURCE: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Luke), Edited by Thomas C. Oden, InterVarsity Press ©2005, Used with permission.

John 10:22-30

22. And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

23. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.

24. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly,

25. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

26. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

27. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

28. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

30. I and my Father are one.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii. 2) And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication. Encænia is the feast of the dedication of the temple; from the Greek word καινὸν, signifying new. The dedication of any thing new was called encænia.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxi. 1) It was the feast of the dedication of the temple, after the return from the Babylonish captivity.

ALCUIN. Or, it was in memory of the dedication under Judas Maccabeus. The first dedication was that of Solomon in the autumn; the second that of Zorobabel, and the priest Jesus in the spring. This was in winter time.

BEDE. Judas Maccabeus instituted an annual commemoration of this dedication.

THEOPHYLACT. The Evangelist mentions the time of winter, to shew that it was near His passion. He suffered in the following spring; for which reason He took up His abode at Jerusalem.

GREGORY. (i. Mor. e. 11) Or because the season of cold was in keeping with the cold malicious hearts of the Jews.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxi. 1.) Christ was present with much zeal at this feast, and thenceforth stayed 1in Judæa; His passion being now at hand. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.

ALCUIN. It is called Solomon’s porch, because Solomon went to pray there. The porches of a temple are usually named after the temple. If the Son of God walked in a temple where the flesh of brute animals was offered up, how much more will He delight to visit our house of prayer, in which His own flesh and blood are consecrated?

THEOPHYLACT. Be thou also careful, in the winter time, i. e. while yet in this stormy wicked world, to celebrate the dedication of thy spiritual temple, by ever renewing thyself, ever rising upward in heart. Then will Jesus be present with thee in Solomon’s porch, and give thee safety under His covering. (τῇ σκέπῃ αὐτοῦ) But in another life no man will be able to dedicate Himself.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii. 3) The Jews cold in love, burning in their malevolence, approached Him not to honour, but persecute. Then came the Jews round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost Thou make us to doubt? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. They did not want to know the truth, but only to find ground of accusation.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxi) Being able to find no fault with His works, they tried to catch Him in His words. And mark their perversity. When He instructs by His discourse, they say, What sign shewest Thou? When He demonstrates by His works, they say, If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Either way they are determined to oppose Him. There is great malice in that speech, Tell us plainly. He had spoken plainly1, when up at the feasts, and had hid nothing. They preface however with flattery: How long dost Thou make us2 to doubt? as if they were anxious to know the truth, but really only meaning to provoke Him to say something that they might lay hold of.

ALCUIN. They accuse Him of keeping their minds in suspense and uncertainty, who had come to save their soulsa.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii) They wanted our Lord to say, I am the Christ. Perhaps, as they had human notions of the Messiah, having failed to discern His divinity in the Prophets, they wanted Christ to confess Himself the Messiah, of the seed of David; that they might accuse Him of aspiring to the regal power.

ALCUIN. And thus they intended to give Him into the hands of the Proconsul for punishment, as an usurper against the emperor. Our Lord so managed His reply as to stop the mouths of His calumniators, open those of the believers; and to those who enquired of Him as a man, reveal the mysteries of His divinity: Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not; the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxi. 2) He reproves their malice, for pretending that a single word would convince them, whom so many words had not. If you do not believe My works, He says, how will you believe My words? And He adds why they do not believe: But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii. c. 4) He saw that they were persons predestinated to eternal death, and not those for whom He had bought eternal life, at the price of His blood. The sheep believe, and follow the Shepherd.

THEOPHYLACT. After He had said, Ye are not of My sheep, He exhorts them to become such: My sheep hear My voice.

ALCUIN. i. e. Obey My precepts from the heart. And I know them, and they follow Me, here by walking in gentleness and innocence, hereafter by entering the joys of eternal life: And I give unto them eternal life.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii. 5, 6) This is the pasture of which He spoke before: And shall find pasture. Eternal life is called a goodly pasture: the grass thereof withereth not, all is spread with verdure. But these cavillers thought only of this present life. And they shall not perish eternally; (οὐ μὴ ἀπόλλυνται εἰς τὸν αἴωνα) as if to say, Ye shall perish eternally, because ye are not of My sheep.

THEOPHYLACT. But how then did Judas perish? Because he did not continue to the end. Christ speaks of them who persevere. If any sheep is separated from the flock, and wanders from the Shepherd, it incurs danger immediately.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii. 6) And He adds why they do not perish: Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. (2 Tim. 2:19) Of those sheep of which it is said, The Lord knoweth then that are His, the wolf robbeth none, the thief taketh none, the robber killeth none. Christ is confident of their safety; and He knows what He gave up for them.

HILARY. (de Trin. vii. c. 22) This is the speech of conscious power. Yet to shew, that though of the Divine nature He hath His nativity from God, He adds, My Father which gave Me them is greater than all. He does not conceal His birth from the Father, but proclaims it. For that which He received from the Father, He received in that He was born from Him. He received it in the birth itself, not after it; though He was born when He received it.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xlviii) The Son, born from ever lasting of the Father, God from God, has not equality with the Father by growth, but by birth. This is that greater than all which the Father gave Himb; viz. to be His Word, to be His Only-Begotten Son, to be the brightness of His light. Wherefore no man taketh His sheep out of His hand, any more than from His Father’s hand: And no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. If by hand we understand power, the power of the Father and the Son is one, even as Their divinity is one. If we understand the Son, the Son is the hand of the Father, not in a bodily sense, as if God the Father had limbs, but as being He by Whom all things were made. Men often call other men hands, when they make use of them for any purpose. And sometimes a man’s work is itself called his hand, because made by his hand; as when a man is said to know his own hand, when he recognises his own handwriting. In this place, however, hand signifies power. If we take it for Son, we shall be in danger of imagining that if the Father has a hand, and that hand is His Son, the Son must have a Son too.

HILARY. (vii. de Trin. c. 22) The hand of the Son is spoken of as the hand of the Father, to let thee see, by a bodily representation, that both have the same nature, that the nature and virtue of the Father is in the Son also.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxi) Then that thou mayest not suppose that the Father’s power protects the sheep, while He is Himself too weak to do so, He adds, I and My Father are one.

AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvi. non occ.) Mark both those words, one and are, and thou wilt be delivered from Scylla and Charybdis. In that He says, one the Arian, in we are the Sabellian, is answered. There are both Father and Son. And if one, then there is no difference of persons between them.

AUGUSTINE. (vii. de Trin. c. 2) We are one. What He is, that am I, in respect of essence, not of relation.

HILARY. (viii. de Trin. c. 5) The heretics, since they cannot gainsay these words, endeavour by an impious lie to explain them away. They maintain that this unity is unanimity only; a unity of will, not of nature; i. e. that the two are one, not in that they are the same, but in that they will the same. But they are one, not by any economy merely, but by the nativity of the Son’s nature, since there is no falling off of the Father’s divinity in begetting Him. They are one whilst the sheep that are not plucked out of the Son’s hand, are not plucked out of the Father’s hand: whilst in Him working, the Father worketh; whilst He is in the Father, and the Father in Him. This unity, not creation but nativity, not will but power, not unanimity but nature accomplisheth. But we deny not therefore the unanimity of the Father and Son; for the heretics, because we refuse to admit concord in the place of unity, accuse us of making a disagreement between the Father and Son. We deny not unanimity, but we place it on the ground of unity. The Father and Son are one in respect of nature, honour, and virtue: and the same nature cannot will different things.

SOURCE: ECATHOLIC 2000 Commentary in public domain.