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Commentary from 
Rivingtons, London, 1884


The Eucharistic tone of the Scriptures used begins now to diverge from the fact of the Resurrection to the results of it, as giving to the Church a Saviour abiding with us for ever.  In the Epistle and Gospel He is set forth as the Chief Pastor, the High Priest of the New Dispensation; and His own words, “I am the Good Shepherd,” are taken up by His chief Apostle when he calls Him “the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”  The Collect is, however, based on the idea of Christ’s holy example as referred to in the first part of the Epistle, and neither in the modern nor in the ancient service is there any recognition of the beautiful parable which our Lord spoke of Himself in the Gospel, except that the first words of it were taken for the “Communio,” or sentence sung during the communion of the laity.  Durandus states that the Epistle and Gospel concerning the sheep and the Shepherd are connected with a Roman custom of holding councils on this day; but if so, the custom must be more ancient than the days of St. Jerome, in whose Lectionary they are found.  It seems probable that Christ’s example to His pastors is, however, the idea of the Sunday, not His example to all. 

In both Epistle and Gospel (considering the season at which they are used) there must be taken to be a reference to victory gained by suffering.  The Good Shepherd would not win His flock by agreeing to the Tempter’s suggestion, “All these things will I give Thee, and the glory of them, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me,” for that would have been no victory at all: but He won them by giving up His life for them; and the seeming extinction of all hope on Good Friday was the step to that triumph by which the “kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ,” the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.  The humble obedience of the Son of Man, “even unto death,” has made Him an Example to all ages, the Leader of an innumerable army of saints, and the Fountain of the pastoral and sacerdotal office, by the ministrations of which men are gathered into the one fold of salvation.