4th Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 22, 2018

First reading: Acts 4:8-12

Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whose God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

Second reading: 1 Jn. 3:1-2

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Gospel: Jn. 10:11-18

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.

“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. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

In other words Fr. Simon Boiser, SVD (Hamburg, Germany)

“The Lord is not my shepherd for I am not a sheep,” said a small boy to his teacher during a religion class. Young children often take things literally; they cannot understand symbolic language. Many skeptical adults, who make fun of religion, may also use this literal approach to disclaim expressions of faith.

In the Letter of John, we are reminded of our deeper identity as God’s children. We are created in God’s image, according to the Book of Genesis (Gen. 1:27). Our ultimate self-worth is based on God’s love for us, not on our success, riches, and popularity. Being part of God’s family, we are encouraged to live like Jesus did but not instantly overnight. Our Christian life is a process of becoming, of growing towards resembling God. We can do this by purifying ourselves, trying to live morally straight, free from the corruption of sin. One who knows God will purify himself or herself accordingly because God is pure.

We are sinful creatures, however, and we cannot save ourselves by our own effort. Jesus is our savior, like a good shepherd. This typical biblical image of shepherding resonates with the occupation of many figures of the Old Testament: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Amos were shepherds. The challenging part of shepherding is not the sheep, which are usually placid and obedient. It is often the difficult weather, the physically demanding work, and loneliness. During the time of Jesus, shepherds travelled on foot for days without seeing another human being. They often slept in tents and had no source of running water for days at a time. When Jesus said he was willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of his flock, he knew the demands of the job.

All of us are dependent on God. We are like sheep, completely dependent on shepherds, who provide them with shelter and guidance, help them when they are hurt and sick. Jesus is our good shepherd and we are his flock. This also means we have to “know” the voice of the shepherd. “Knowing” God means having an intimate and obedient relationship with him. Our tendency to put ourselves in harm’s way and our inability to guide ourselves remind us about our need of a shepherd. May we find in Jesus the true Shepherd of our souls.

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word