4th Sunday of Easter, Year A
3-6 year olds
(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
Here it is, our favourite parable! On the fourth Sunday of Easter each year, the church listens to Jesus tell us all that he is the Good Shepherd. It is a long parable, so each year we look very closely at just one part of it.
Did you hear what the Good Shepherd does?
He calls his own sheep
The Good Shepherd has sheep of his own--they belong to him. He calls them, and they are his.
How does he call them?
He calls his own sheep by name
He knows their names! How can he tell them all apart? How can he remember each name?
Think, who knows your name?
Family and friends? These are all people who love you.
Teachers, doctors, priests? These are all people who care about you.
Can we say, then, that the Good Shepherd loves and cares for his sheep?
They must be very special sheep.
After he calls his sheep, the Good Shepherd,
leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them
Now that is unusual. Most shepherds walk behind the sheep, pushing them with their staff, keeping an eye on them so none of them wander off.
Why doesn't the Good Shepherd walk behind? Isn't he worried that the sheep might wander off?
the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
What do they know about his voice?
We have thought about the voice of the Good Shepherd before. This is the voice that called Peter and Andrew, James and John, and they followed him. This is the voice that called Lazarus out of the dead and into life. This is the voice that called Mary Magdalene and she turned and was the first to know that Jesus is Risen.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, must have a voice of such power, of such sweetness, of such joy, that they want to follow.
And Jesus tells us, too, that the sheep,
will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.
They only know the voice of the Good Shepherd. They must know that only his voice will lead them to good things. Only his voice will lead them to all the things they need. We know that is true, because Jesus also says,
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Abundant life. Not just enough life, but MORE than enough life. The best.
Only the best for the sheep. They must be very special sheep.
I like thinking about the voice of the Good Shepherd. I think about it and I wonder, do I know the voice of the Good Shepherd? What about you? Do you know his voice already?