4th Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2023

 

4th Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2023

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41; 1 Peter 2: 20b-25; John 10: 1-10

 

Theme: We are Both the Sheep of Jesus and Good Shepherds for our Brothers and Sisters

 

This Fourth Sunday of Easter is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It is also called “The Good Shepherd Sunday” because, in all three Liturgical Years, we read the “Good Shepherd” discourse in chapter ten of the Gospel of John (Year A: vv. 1-10; Year B: vv. 11-18; and Year C: vv. 27-30). The scripture readings of today teach us about what we should do as sheep of Jesus and as good shepherds of our brothers and sisters. 

First, let us see what we are expected to do as the sheep of Jesus. In our Gospel, Jesus describes himself as the “Good Shepherd” who calls each of us by our names, walks ahead of us, and leads us (John 10: 3-4). As Jesus’ sheep, we are called to do three things: hear the voice of our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, recognize it, and follow him. First, we need to hear Jesus when he speaks to us. Our Risen Lord speaks to us in the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass), in Scripture reading, in our hearts, when we pray, and through our brothers and sisters. We need to take advantage of all these moments in which Jesus speaks to us and be attentive to his voice. Second, we are called to recognize his voice. In this world, there are many voices of the “bad shepherds” that deceive us. Jesus identifies them as “strangers’, “thieves’, and “robbers”. To recognize Jesus’ voice among many others, we need to hear him regularly when he speaks to us and become familiar with the way he speaks to us. That is why attending Mass regularly, praying at home, reading the Bible, and listening to our brothers and sisters are very important. Third, the Gospel asks us to follow Jesus. Being a Christian is being Jesus’ follower. The author of our second reading teaches us what it means to follow Jesus. For him, following Jesus, which is our calling, goes together with suffering and the grace of God. “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…” (v. 20b-21). He exhorts us to be patient and imitates the example of Jesus. “… because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” (v. 21b). Here to follow Jesus means to follow his footsteps. And what are Christ’s footsteps? He answers, “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.” (vv. 22-23). So, to follow Jesus is to do what he did in all circumstances. Our Gospel exhorts us to hear Jesus whenever he speaks to us, become capable of recognizing his voice, and finally be his followers.

Second, we are called to be the “Good Shepherds” for our brothers and sisters as Jesus is for us. Jesus declares that he is the gate for the sheep, and whoever enters through him will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture (see vv. 7-9). Here Jesus refers to himself as the gate that protects the sheep from the “false shepherds” and the gate that leads them to salvation. Jesus protects his sheep from the “false shepherds” who work hard every day to destroy the relationships of the people with God. You and I are the “Good Shepherds” for others. Our mission in this Church, in our families, and wherever we live is to protect our brothers and sisters and make sure that they are in good relationships with God. Also, the way all of us must pass through Jesus, the gate that leads to eternal salvation, is the same way that Jesus exhorts us to be the “gate” for others so that through us they may know him and be saved. Let us be the “gate” that protects our brothers and sisters and also the “gate’ that leads them to Jesus.

To accomplish this mission of being the “gate-protector” and the “gate-leader”, we need to be spiritually strong. A protector is supposed to be stronger than the enemy who attacks. And a leader is supposed to know very well the road where he leads others to. Sin makes us weak and blinds us spiritually. In this way, we cannot protect others and lead them to Jesus. Peter, in our first reading, calls us to repent whenever we sin. Notice how he associates repentance with the reception of the Holy Spirit. (v.38). In the sacrament of confession, we receive the forgiveness of our sins and also receive the Holy Spirit who strengthens us and enables us to be the “gate-protector” and the “gate-leader” for our brothers and sisters.

The liturgy of this Fourth Sunday of Easter reminds us that all of us are the sheep of Jesus, and we are also the Good Shepherds of our fellow humans. As the sheep, we are called to hear Jesus’ voice, recognize it, and follow Jesus. Following Jesus means not abandoning our faith when we endure our own suffering but following Jesus’ footsteps. As Good Shepherds, we learn that we are the “gate” that protects others from the “false shepherds” whose intention is to mislead the people of God. We are also the “gate” that leads our brothers and sisters to Jesus. On this Sunday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us pray for men and women who consecrated their lives to be the Good Shepherds of the sheep of God. We pray also for the young men and women who are in the formation training and those who consider answering the call of Jesus to consecrate their lives to serve the Church and God’s people. Finally, we pray for all of us, laypersons and clerics, so that we work together and shepherd the sheep that God gave us in our Church, our families, and everywhere we live. Amen.

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – July 7, 2024

  14th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – July 7, 2024 Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6   Theme: What to Do When We Experienc...