The Fourth Sunday of Easter is always set aside as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It is also called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because in each year of the 3 year cycle the gospel is taken from John’s gospel, chapter 10 in which John speaks of various aspects of Jesus’ role as the good shepherd. In year A, the theme is Christ as the sheep gate, in year B, Christ as the model shepherd, and in year C, our current year, the theme is the care of the flock.
Today’s gospel speaks of the Christian response to Christ as a willingness to hear his voice and follow his lead. The church of John’s time was beset by persecution from without,especially with its definitive break with the synagogue (Jn 9:34f) and the opposition of Rome, and with difficulties from within on the part of false teachers (1John 2:18; 4:1), The end of the shepherd discourse encourages the believer in the presence of these hardships.
The mutual recognition of Christ and his followers bespeaks a close adherence and assures the Spirit -life which begins here, but continues into eternity. There is , moreover, no need to fear the marauders who attempt to invade the sheepfold. That overarching protective power of the Father will protect the faithful. The Father has entrusted them to Christ and thus they will never be wrested from his grasp (the hand of the Father and the Son here become one). The Father and Jesus work in perfect concert; they constitute an inseparable unity. To know (i.e be in relationship with) Jesus is to know the Father, and thus enjoy eternal life.