4th Sunday of Easter

First reading: Acts 2:14a,36–41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Second reading: 1 Pt. 2:20b–25

Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Gospel: Jn. 10:1–10

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

In other words 

Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD (Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies, Tagaytay City)

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is known as the “Good Shepherd Sunday” because invariably the Gospel reading comes from Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel which presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

As we know, Palestine during the time of Jesus was mostly dry and barren desert. Hardly any vegetation thrived on this desert land. And so, the primary source of livelihood for the people was not agriculture, but the raising of animals, particularly sheep. And sheep was raised not so much for the meat they could provide as food when slaughtered but for the wool with which people could do business with the merchants and clothes-makers.

So, the sheep stayed longer than usual with the shepherd. And an intimate relationship usually develops between sheep and shepherd. The shepherd would give names to each sheep in much the same way that we today provide names for our pet dogs. Often the shepherd would create distinct melodies for each of these names. And so, the sheep knew the voice of the shepherd. They recognized his voice when the shepherd called them to go to pasture. The hireling or mercenary did not know the names of the sheep, nor did the sheep recognize his voice. So, the sheep would not follow the hireling or mercenary.

The other image about Jesus being the “gate” refers to the practice whereby the shepherd, once he has gathered all the sheep inside the pen at night, would sit or lie at the gate to prevent any sheep from going out, and prevent wild animals from getting in. As the Gospel reading puts it, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

The message of today’s Gospel reading is that God is our Shepherd who takes care of us through his Son, Jesus, the Good Shepherd. As our Shepherd, God’s care for us is profoundly personal and intimate. He calls each of us by name, inviting us to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, as he leads us to verdant pastures.

But have we learned to recognize the voice of God, our Shepherd? Do we hear his voice when he calls us? And do we follow him as he invites us to the pastures of abundant life? Let us pray for the grace to recognize the voice of our Shepherd—by prayer and meditation, by reading and reflecting on his word in Sacred Scripture, by encountering him in the Eucharist, by recognizing him in our assistance and solidarity with the poor and the needy. Only when we recognize the voice of the Shepherd can our Shepherd protect us and care for us.

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