Theme: WE THANK THE FATHER FOR JESUS CHRIST OUR GOOD SHEPHERD AND WE ASK THE FATHER TO GIVE US GOOD SHEPHERDS
- Acts 4:8-12;
- Psalm 117 (118): 1. 8-9. 21-23. 26. 28-29. R/ v. 22;
- 1 John 3:1-2
- John 10:11-18
Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd! The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd has four qualities:
(i) He knows the Father and the Father knows him, that is, he loves the Father and the Father loves him. (NJB) (ii) He knows his sheep and his sheep knows him, that is, he loves his people and his people love him. (iii) He lays down his life for his sheep. (iv) He leads all the sheep, that is, not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles, irrespective of race, religion and nationality! Thus we read in the gospel today:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.” (Jn 10:14-16 a/SM)
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep through his death and resurrection! The Good Shepherd saves his sheep through his death and resurrection! Thus we read in the first reading:
“This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” (Ac 4:11-12/SM)
The name “Jesus” in Hebrew means “God saves”! (Mt 1:21) At the time when Luke wrote the “Acts of the Apostles”, the Roman world believed that the emperor was “savior” and “god”! Luke tells us that only Jesus is “Savior” and “God”! (CSB)
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117 (118): 22)
The responsorial psalm is a hymn of thanksgiving for salvation. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (Ps 117 (118): 1. 8-9) is a call to praise God and an expression of confidence and trust in God. The second stanza (Ps 117 (118): 21-23) is a thanksgiving to God for saving us through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Thus we read in the second stanza from which the response is taken: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.” (Ps 117 (118): 22) The third stanza (Ps 117 (118): 26. 28-29) continues to praise and thank God for saving us.
Note that the first verse (v. 1) and the last verse (v. 29) of the responsorial psalm and of the original psalm are the same: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.” (Ps 117 (118): 1. 29) God is love. God’s love has no end. It is out of love that God saved us through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ!
This theme of love is carried over into the second reading. The second reading tells us to think of the love God has for us by calling us his children! The second reading also tells us that when all is revealed at the “Parousia”, that is, at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we will be like him! We will be like Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd! Thus we read in the second reading:
“Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are. …. My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 Jn 3: 1-2/SM)
Today we thank the Father for Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd and we pray the Father to give us good shepherds. We pray the Father to give us good priests, good religious brothers and sisters, and good lay leaders!
Indeed today is the “46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations” and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has a special message for us. Our Pope tells us that vocation is a call from God and our response to God’s call. Our Pope tells us to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Thus we read in the Pope’s message:
“On the occasion of the next World Day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, which will be celebrated on 3 May 2009, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite all the People of God to reflect on the theme: Faith in the divine initiative – the human response. The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: ‘Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray!
The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really ‘have ever greater faith and hope in God’s providence’ (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer.”
“Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer. We must pray that the whole Christian people grows in its trust in God, convinced that the ‘Lord of the harvest’ does not cease to ask some to place their entire existence freely at his service so as to work with him more closely in the mission of salvation.
What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction.” Amen!