The Gospel text set before us today is a difficult one. It doesn’t come up very often in the liturgy because the Tenth Sunday is often missed out due to the particular timing of Lent in any given year.
The inauguration of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated first and foremost on Maundy Thursday in its natural place the night before Jesus died on the Cross. But because that celebration takes place very much in the context of the sadness of the events of Christ’s passion and death, the Church gives us this second feast in the course of the year to help us to get to explore more fully the Eucharist, the commemoration of the Last Supper.
Last week was Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, one of the most important feasts in the Church year. We are the Church and Pentecost was our feast. Now as the first thing we are invited to look at as we move forward is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
The Feast of Pentecost ranks among the most important in the Christian Calendar; it is up there with Christmas and Easter as marking a crucial moment in the story of our salvation
Today in our Gospel reading we have a section of St John’s Gospel known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus. It takes place at the Last Supper and we hear Jesus praying to the Father.
For our reflection this Sunday we are presented with the very heart of the Gospel message: Love one another as I have loved you. We are all familiar with love. We all experience love in our lives both on the giving and the receiving end. We know what love is and it is something that we all probably feel qualified to speak about. We have grown up feeling love towards our families and being loved in return by them.
In the Gospel text last week Jesus is quoted as saying: I am the Good Shepherd. In this week’s Gospel he says: I am the true vine.
On this the Fourth Sunday of Easter in all three years of the liturgical cycle we get an extract from the tenth chapter of St John’s Gospel in which Jesus tells his disciples that he is the Good Shepherd. It is for this reason that it is often called Good Shepherd Sunday and is kept as a day of prayer for priestly and religious vocations.
The liturgy of the last two Sundays have presented us with Gospel readings from St John; but this Sunday we now switch to St Luke. There are differences between the accounts of the various Gospel writers but they have enough in common for us to realise that they do not differ in essentials but merely in perspective.
Whenever you see a picture of St Thomas the Apostle he is almost always represented as touching the wound in Christ’s side. But, in fact, the Gospel does not record him actually ever having done this.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket