Home » General » Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted on April 21, 2024, by Eleanor Craig SL

Acts 4:8-12 1 John 3:1-2 John 10:11-18

“Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said, ‘It was in the name of Jesus Christ … that this man … is healed. There is no salvation through anyone else. There is no other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’ ”  

Is this the truth, the only truth?  Does it come from God?  It does according to the writer Luke, and the speaker Peter.  How are we to understand these words today?

Today we acknowledge and mourn 2,000 years of Christian violence toward Jews and Muslims, toward indigenous peoples, Asian peoples, toward two-thirds of the earth’s peoples—all in the name of Jesus, for their salvation. Closer to home, our Loretto Community acknowledges and mourns the consequences of our work among American Indian and Chinese peasant girls, negating their cultures even as we meant to “save them” in the name of Jesus Christ.

Of course, Christians aren’t the first or the only believers who call on the name of their God to justify every form of coercion and violence. Alongside members of the whole human family, we acknowledge with humility how many forms of religious truth have led to human suffering.  Violence rages even today between Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land.; between Hindus and Muslims in India; between sects of Muslims in Iraq and in Afghanistan; between tribal religions in Africa. 

Can more than one truth prevail? What truth comes from God? Is there only one name that saves? To whom should we look for salvation? Indeed, just what does it mean to be saved?  Turning to the Gospel, we look for help with these questions in Jesus’ earthy parable of the Good Shepherd. 

There is certainly a strong odor of wholesome goodness about the character of the shepherd.  The core of a shepherd’s work rests on a relationship: “I know mine and mine know me.” In Jesus’ day, shepherds led their flocks to an enclosure for safety in the night, a sheep pen shared with other flocks. It was a sign of the shepherd’s care that when he called his flock together, all of his sheep recognized his voice and followed him out of the enclosure. The Good Shepherd searches in good weather and bad for the one who is lost; he leads his flock to green pastures and protects them from harm.

Shepherds appear in several biblical stories, notably as minor figures, lacking the dignity and public recognition accorded military and religious heroes. David of Bethlehem began as a humble shepherd, tender-hearted and gentle, only later becoming a warrior king. Unlike David, Jesus the Good Shepherd becomes King of the Jews by laying down his life on a cross.  

How far does Jesus’ kingdom reach? Jesus says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Here is the crux of our question: Is the Good Shepherd’s way of gathering all into one flock any different from his disciples’ misguided efforts at conversion and coercion over the centuries? Peter, speaking for the Christian church, says the power to save comes from invoking the name of Jesus. The good shepherd, on the other hand, cares for his sheep and saves his sheep, not by saying his own name, but by knowing his sheep, calling them by name, and giving his life for them.  May we and all Christians do the same, in the name of Jesus.


Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. Now retired, she still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.