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Gospel for Sunday, April 21: John 10:11-18

IV Sunday of Easter B

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hireling-who is not a shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong-sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep and flees, and the wolf abducts and scatters them; 13 because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that do not come from this pen: those also I must lead. They will listen to my voice and become one flock, one shepherd. 17 That is why the Father loves me: because I give my life, only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it away from me: I give it of myself. I have the power to give it and the power to take it back again. This is the command I have received from my Father.”

Jn 10:11-18

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather ( Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.


We are confronted with twin parables, here merged into a single parable. In the first (Jn. 10:1-10) it is stated that Jesus is the Door: in it the absolute centrality of the relationship with Jesus is reiterated! In fact, Jesus will say “I AM the way…and no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6).

We are on the Feast of Dedication (Jn 10:1-11:54). This feast (between November and December) celebrates the consecration (Hannukah) of the Temple in 164 B.C. after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had placed in the Holy of Holies the statue of Zeus Olympius. The books of Maccabees, which present the betrayal of the high priests Jason and Menelaus, were also read on this feast: the thieves and brigands are the infidel authorities.


In the second parable Jesus presents himself as the ideal Shepherd (Jn. 10:11-18).

The Old Testament presents us with IHWH as the “Shepherd of Israel” (Gen 48:15): “The Lord is my shepherd…, on grassy pastures he makes me rest” (Sl 23); “You, shepherd of Israel,… lead Joseph like a flock” (Sl 80:2; cf. Is 40:11). God uses men (judges, kings, prophets) to shepherd Israel: but often these are unworthy, mercenary, and let the flock entrusted to them perish (Jer 23:1-3; Ez 34:1-10). But, at the end of time, IHWH himself will take care of the flock (Jer 23:3), gather it (Mi 4:6), lead it back (Jer 50:19), and finally guard it (Jer 31:10; Ez 34:11-22). To do this, says IHWH: “I will raise up for them a shepherd who will shepherd my sheep, David
my servant. He will lead them to pasture; he will be their shepherd” (Ez 34:23-24). There arises the expectation of the messianic shepherd, who will “shepherd with the strength of the Lord” (Mi 5:3): who, however, will be smitten (Zech 13:7), pierced (Zech 12:10), and whose death will be salutary (Zech 13:1).

Jesus, during the Feast of Dedication (Jn 10:22), at which we read, among other passages, the very chapter 34 of Ezekiel, which sings IHWH as the sole Shepherd of Israel and warns against false shepherds, presents Himself precisely as the “kalòs” (Jn 10:11) shepherd, literally “beautiful,” in the ideal sense of perfection, i.e., as the “ideal,” “model,” “perfect” Shepherd: he is the one who has mercy on the sheep without a shepherd and is the one sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mk 6:34; Mt 10:6; 15:24). He is the “great shepherd of the sheep” (Heb 13:20), “the shepherd and keeper of the flock” (1 Pet 2:25), the lamb-shepherd who leads to the fountains of life (Rev 7:17). Jesus applies to himself the characters of the messianic shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:11,15,17,18: he repeats it five times!). Indeed, he proclaims himself God himself (the “I am” of vv. 9 and 11 is the very Name of God!): the sheep are “his” (v. 14), they listen to “his” voice (v.16). He “knows” them (v. 14: semitism for “love”), and his sheep “know” him. He is the Shepherd not only of Israel but of all nations (v.16), the only salvation for all people (Acts 4:12). The Jews understand the enormous theological significance of this speech, and conclude that he is completely insane, “undemented” (Jn. 10:20).

What tenderness in the definition of Jesus as shepherd: there is all his agape, his providence, his thinking of each one of us, worrying about us, knowing our rhythms, preparing for us quiet waters and pastures, leading us slowly even into darkness and dangers, defending us, recovering us if lost, giving his life for us! What security, what serenity, what peace what joy must arise for us from the contemplation of this mystery! It is no longer we who must manage, plan our lives. It is no longer we who have to seek our own way. We are no longer alone in danger and difficulties. There is God who thinks of us, provides for us, helps us. He melts away our anxiety, our anguish. And we sing with Ps 131:2, “I am calm and serene as a weaned child in its mother’s arms!”

Today’s Gospel is also a warning to the pastors of the Church, who like Jesus must “love-know” their sheep and lay down their lives for them. Woe if they are only “hirelings” (v. 12)!
Said Pope Francis: “Even today there are ‘anointed of the Lord,’ consecrated men, who abuse the weak, taking advantage of their moral power and persuasion… They commit abominations and continue to exercise their ministry as if nothing were the matter; they do not fear God or his judgment, but only fear being discovered and unmasked. Ministers who tear apart the body of the Church, causing scandals and discrediting the saving mission of the Church and the sacrifices of so many of their brethren… Often behind their boundless kindness, impeccable industriousness and angelic countenance, they shamelessly hide a heinous wolf ready to devour innocent souls. The sins and crimes of consecrated persons are colored with even darker hues of unfaithfulness, shame and deform the face of the Church by undermining its credibility. In fact, the Church, together with her faithful children, is also the victim of these infidelities and real ‘crimes of peculation.'”

Peter writes in his First Epistle, “Shepherd the flock of God that is entrusted to you…not by force, but willingly according to God; not out of cowardly interest, but of good spirit; not by lord it over the people entrusted to you, but by being models of the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not wither” (1 Pet. 5:24).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

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