The 4th Sunday of Easter is “Good Shepherd Sunday,” and in today’s gospel Jesus is called the “gate” of the sheep. The risen Christ opens the way to abundant life. But what does Jesus mean when he says that he came so that we may have an abundant life? Psalm 23 provides us with a good illustration. This familiar psalm imagines an abundant life not in material terms but in relational terms. An abundant life is one lived in the presence of God, in the company of the Lord. Whether one is in green pastures or the darkest valley, there is nothing to want, because God is present. This relationship is with one who knows us abundantly, who knows us by name, and who knows what we truly need to be fulfilled. When Jesus says, “I AM the Good Shepherd” he is telling us that he is with us at all times, and our relationship with him provides us all we need. He anoints our heads with oil and guides us beside the still waters of our baptism, and each Sunday he spreads a feast before us amid the world’s darkest valleys so that we can go forth to be signs of the resurrection in the world.
Image: Sheep by Jeff Stvan. Copyright © Jeff Stvan. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the photographer.