(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. In this reflection, we wonder who the sheep of the Good Shepherd might be. The child may not have an answer for this yet, and the realization may take a long time—years, perhaps—but when the child makes this discovery on his or her own, s/he will be filled with such joy!)
This Sunday we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter. We know that Jesus says, "I AM the Good Shepherd." This Sunday, we get to think about our favourite parable and wonder what Jesus means.
My sheep hear my voice.
Jesus tells us that he has sheep—sheep who belong to him. We wonder who these sheep might be.
The sheep hear the Good Shepherd's voice. What does he say? Does he call to the sheep? We wonder what the Good Shepherd's voice sounds like.
I know them
The Good Shepherd knows his sheep. What does that mean? What does Jesus know?
When people know someone, they know what they like and what they do not like. They know what they like to eat, what they like to play, how they like to work. They know that they need to sleep when they are crabby; they know that they jump out of bed full of joy. When people know someone, they know their name.
This is how the Good Shepherd knows his sheep.
Are there people like that who know us? Who are the people who know what we like? Who are some people who know our name? All of those people love us. We love them, too.
Does the Good Shepherd love his sheep? Perhaps the sheep love him, too.
and they follow me.
The sheep follow the Good Shepherd. Why do they follow him? Sheep only follow someone who makes them feel safe. They only follow someone who feeds them good food. They only follow someone who takes good care of them. Sheep only follow someone they know.
The sheep know the Good Shepherd.
they follow me.
Where does the Good Shepherd lead the sheep? We wonder where they go.
I give them eternal life
Eternal life—so much life, abundant life, life that does not end in death.
Eternal life is Risen life, the life that fills Jesus after he dies on the cross.
Jesus gives this Risen life to his sheep.
All that he has, he gives to his sheep.
No wonder the sheep follow him!
He knows them.
He loves them.
He gives them eternal life.
They follow him always.
We wonder again...
Who might these sheep be?
Perhaps, if we draw a picture of the Good Shepherd and his sheep, we will know something more.