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May 1, 1998     The Message
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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Shepherd and sheep: A failsafe a By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for May 3, 1998: Fourth Sunday of Easter: Cycle C: John 10:27-30 Readings for the next four Sundays of Easter in this Lucan cycle of readings are instead taken from John. The first one is taken from chapter ten. This chapter contains the famous description of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Today's gospel is a brief sequel to that parable. Jesus asserts that his sheep hear his voice. He knows them. They follow him. He gives them eternal life. They will never perish. No one can take them from him. Then he gives the reason for this total security. His sheep have been given to him by his Father. When they are in his hands they are also in the hands of his Father, but no one can take anything away from God. Therefore they are totally safe in the hands of Jesus. Why? Jesus concludes, "I and the Father are one!" Such is the gospel for this Sunday. What is it about? The metaphor of shepherd- sheep echoes the pastoral setting of ancient Israel from whom the Old Testament originates. The Bible speaks of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. as herders of flocks. Many of the laws of the Torah mention sheep and shepherding. From this concrete- ly pastoral foundation it was not long before shep- herd and sheep moved into metaphorical/symbolic language. Thus we already find such usage in the Psalms, in the prophets, and in the Torah itself. For example, Numbers 27:17 speaks of the community of Israelites as sheep and their hoped for leader as a shepherd. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the his- torical books of Samuel and Kings, all use thesym- bolism of shepherd/sheep for ruler/ruled. The most important Old Testament background for shepherd/sheep usage in the Gospel of John is the sixth century B.C. prophet, Ezekiel 34. Through the words of Ezekiel Yahweh-God heaps criticism on the civic and religious leadership of the people of Israel. The leaders have failed as shepherds. Instead of tending the sheep, their people, they have let them be scattered and let them fall prey to wild beasts. They have not strengthened the weak, nor healed the sick, "the injured you have not bandaged, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them." Yahweh berates the shepherds for using the sheep for income but not feeding them, "You have fed on their milk you have worn their wool.. .but you have not fed them." Yahweh rejects them as shepherds and proclaims himself as shepherd of the sheep. This forms the immediate background for John's parable of the Good Shepherd and the state- ments of Jesus that form today's gospel. A major theme of John's gospel may be called "replacement theology." By this approach John mines the Old Testament Scriptures for attributes of Yahweh which he then applies to Jesus. As Yahweh in Ezekiel is said to be the true shepherd who replaces the wicked shepherds, so Jesus, Son of Yah- weh, speaks of himself in the Gospel of John, "I am the good shepherd." As Ezekiel's Yahweh promised total pastoral care for the sheep of his flock, so Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice. I know themand they follow me. I will give them eternal life and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand." And if his readers have not gotten the point that Jesus is Yahweh come among them as shepherd, John portrays Jesus saying, "My father has given them to me, and no one can snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." . But John's replacement this point. There is a specific which John places these sta quently associates important about Jesus with one of the festivals. Here it is the Feast Hanukkah. This feast celebrated  temple from the Syrians in from idol worship with which luted the temple, of Yahweh: This was acco ship of the Maccabees ( is therefore on leadership. The but by the time their dynasty the Romans to be rid of them. The tually failed their people John is, however, writing at a t of the first Christian debate in Judaism, whict the form of Judaism to with its sacrificial system and longer operative. All factions, Christians, etc. would have (Old Testament Scripture for us) whose interpretation? The claimed that they were Torah and many looked to John already claimed inhis although ?the Torah was given and truth came throu trays in t(day's gospel Jesus as the Good Shepherd; teaching ii whose dedication was today'gospel Jesus is people as shePherd, as temple, "" Readings:Acts13:14 ,17; John 10:27-30. .\\; Golden Jubilarians Irvin and Mary (Demuth) Verkamp of Ferdinand will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 5:30 p.m. May 9 at St. Ferdinand Church, Ferdinand. They were married May 8, 1948, at St. Ferdinand Church. They are the par- ents of five children: Tom Verkamp of Mount Vernon, Margie Verkamp of Severn, Md., Mike Verkamp of Jasper, Louie Verkamp of Ferdinand, and Andrew Verkamp of Loudenville, Ohio. They have 10 grandchildren. Mr. Verkamp is retired from Chairs, Inc. Mrs. Verkamp is retired from Scenic Hills Care Golden Jubilarians Leo and Alice (Hopf) Betz of Schnellville will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 9".30 a.m. May 10 at Sacred Heart Church, Schnellville. A dinner for invited guests will follow at the Schnellville Conservation Club. An Open House for friends and relatives will be held from I to 4 p.m. The couple requests no gifts. They were married May 11, 1948, at St. Mary Church, Huntingburg. They are the parents of 11 children: Larry, Charles, Clarence and Gary, all of Schnellville, Shirley Englert of St. Anthony, Mary Wagner of St. Meinrad, Nancy Foil of SchnellviUe, Ruth Gehlhausen of Atlanta, Ga., and Rita McCain of Velpen. Two sons, Raymond and Dennis, died in infancy. They have 24 grandchildren, and two great-grand- children. Mr. Betz is a retired farmer from the Schnellville area. I I II I I Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana 47558 Donald J. Traylor President Phone; 486-3285 I[lllll ] I I] I I I II I _ I 1111 o Y