Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A) – 7th April 2017 (Vocation Sunday)

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD HAS FAITH IN GOD, HAS LOVE, MERCY, AND FORGIVENESS FOR SINNERS, AND GIVES LIFE TO THE DEAD

  • Acts 2:14. 36-41;
  • 1 Peter 2:20-25;
  • John 10:1-10

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter! Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday and that is why the gospel reading of today is taken from the gospel of John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd. In fact the gospels of Years A, B, and C for Good Shepherd Sunday are all taken from St. John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd! Today is also Vocation Sunday, that is, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, particularly vocations to the priesthood and religious life! The Good Shepherd is the model of the Good Christian, particularly, the model of the Good Priest!

The gospel today tells us about the Good Shepherd, but before we look at the Good Shepherd, let us look at the bad shepherd in chapter 9 of the same gospel of John. In fact chapter 10 of John on the Good Shepherd (Jesus Christ) is a commentary on chapter 9 of John on the Bad Shepherd – the Pharisees (CSB/NAB). In chapter 10 of John, Jesus continues to attack the Pharisees who were the Bad Shepherds!

Chapter 9 of John is on the cure of the blind man and the reaction of the Pharisees to the cure of the blind man. The reaction of the Pharisees shows them to be bad shepherds, that is, they have no faith, they have no love, mercy, and forgiveness, and they cannot give life! The Good Shepherd on the other hand, has faith, has love, and can give life!

The Pharisees (bad shepherds) had no faith. They did not believe in the miracle, they did not believe in Jesus Christ. In fact they believed that Jesus Christ was a sinner! And in the words of Jesus Christ himself they were blind, they cannot see with the eyes of faith: “It is for judgment that I have come into this world, so that those without sight (the blind man) may see (faith) and those with sight (the Pharisees) may become blind”!

The Pharisees (bad shepherds) had no love, mercy and forgiveness! They only had law, judgment, and punishment! They said of Jesus Christ who cured the blind man: “That man cannot be from God: he does not keep the Sabbath (law)”! They condemned Jesus Christ for showing love, mercy and forgiveness to the man who was physically and spiritually blind on the Sabbath and thus breaking the Sabbath law of rest! Unlike and opposed to Jesus Christ, for the Pharisee, man is made for the law, not the law for man!

The Pharisees (the bad shepherds) cannot give life to the sinner and to the dead! They said to the blind man who was cured: “you a sinner through and through ever since you were born!” And they threw him out of the synagogue! They excommunicated him!

Again, the gospel today tells us, “The thief (the Pharisee) comes only to steal and kill and destroy”! (John 10:10)

The 3 readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, that is, he had faith, he had love, mercy, and forgiveness, and he gives life!

He had faith in God! The second reading from 1 Peter tells us that “He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was suffering he made no threats but PUT HIS TRUST IN THE UPRIGHT JUDGE”! (1 Peter 2:23).

He had love, mercy, and forgiveness! In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter tells the Jews on the day of Pentecost: “You must repent, and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”! (Acts 2:38)

Finally, Jesus Christ tells us in today’s gospel that he is the Good Shepherd who gives life: “I have come so THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL”! (John 10:10).

 

The Good Shepherd is the model of the Good Priest and the Bad Shepherd is the model of the Bad Priest! A good priest has faith in God, has love, mercy, and forgiveness, and gives life! A bad priest has no faith in God, but has faith in himself, in his own goodness and good will, and in his own strength and ability! A bad priest has no love, but has only the law! A bad priest cannot give life! Faith, love, and life are connected: In faith we receive God’s love, and in love we give life!

Today is “Vocation Sunday”, and today we have a message from our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II for “World Day of Prayer for Vocations”. The following are excerpts:

“’Put out into the deep!’” (Luke 5:4). “This well-known Gospel scene can serve as the background setting of the coming World Day of prayer for Vocations, which has the theme: ‘Called to put out into the deep’. This is a special occasion for reflecting on the vocation to follow Christ and, in particular, to follow him in the priesthood and the consecrated life”. No. 1  

 “Do not forget that today too there is need of holy priests, of persons wholly consecrated to the service of God! With this in mind, I want to repeat once more: ‘There is a pressing need to implement an extensive plan of vocation promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools, and families in the effort to foster a more attentive reflection on the essential values of life. These values reach their fulfillment in the response which each person is invited to give to God’s call, particularly when the call implies the total gift of oneself and of one’s energies for the sake of the Kingdom’ (‘Novo Millennio Ineunte,’ 46).” No. 5

 “May an ardent prayer sustained by the motherly intercession of Mary, rise from every corner of the earth, to the heavenly Father to obtain “laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38). May He give zealous and holy priests to every part of his flock”. No. 6

Castel Gandolfo, 11th August 2004, John Paul II.

 

Amen!

4th Sunday of Easter (C) Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday – 17th April 2016

Theme: THE GOOD SHEPHERD KNOWS, LOVES AND SACRIFICES HIMSELF FOR HIS SHEEP

  • Acts 13:14. 43-52;
  • Psalm 99 (100): 1-3. 5. R/ v. 3;
  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 7:9. 14-17
  • Jn 10:27-30

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter, Liturgical year C. Today is also Good Shepherd Sunday/Vocation Sunday! The gospel today tells us about Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. To begin with, the gospel today taken from John chapter 10 on the Good Shepherd is a commentary on John chapter 9 on the “Bad Shepherd”, that is, the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man from the synagogue! (CSB)

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep know him, that is, the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep and his sheep know and love him! (Jn 10:14; NJB) To know is to love and to love is to know! We cannot love someone we do not know!

The gospel today tells us that the Good Shepherd gives eternal life to his sheep, and his sheep will not be lost, and no one can steal his sheep from him! That is, the Good Shepherd through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gives eternal life to his sheep! That is why his sheep will not be lost and no one can steal his sheep from him!

The gospel also tells us that the Good Shepherd and the Father are one! That is, the Good Shepherd lives in love and unity with the Father; the Good shepherd is in communion, communication and community with the Father! In fact the Good Shepherd shares in the very divine nature of the Father!

 

The second reading also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The second reading tells us that the Lamb of God who was slain and sacrificed and who washed away our sins with his blood is the Good Shepherd! That is why he can give us eternal life! In fact, only he can give us eternal life! Thus we read in the second reading:

“They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rv 7:16-17; SM)

The gospel and the second reading today tell us that the Good Shepherd knows and loves his sheep, sacrifices himself for his sheep, and is one with the Father! Let us today give thanks to God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and let us ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us and who will be one with the Father in faith and prayer!

 

The Good Shepherd is not only for the Jews. The Good Shepherd is also for the pagans and non-Jews! Indeed, the Good Shepherd is for all the nations and for the whole world!

The first reading today tells us that the word of God, the good news, is not only for the Jews, but the word of God, the good news, is also for the non-Jews, the pagans! In fact the first reading tells us that the Jews rejected the word of God, the good news; as a result the word of God was preached to the pagans and the pagans accepted it with joy! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, ‘we had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 13: 46-47; SM)

 

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the Good Shepherd. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God our Shepherd. (HCSB) Thus the response:

“We are his people, the sheep of his flock.” (Ps 99 (100): 3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise and thanks to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza gives praise and thanks to God because he is our creator and shepherd (v. 3)! The third stanza gives praise and thanks to God for his goodness and faithful love (v. 5)!

 

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and we ask God to give us Good Shepherds who will know and love us, who will sacrifice themselves for us, and who will be one in faith and prayer with God the Father!

Today is also Vocation Sunday, today we thank God for the many priestly and religious vocations, and today we ask God to give us many more priestly and religious vocations. Today we thank God for our seminarians and we continue to pray for them.

A happy Easter to all of you, and a happy Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday to all of you! Amen!

 

Today, let us also reflect on “Evangelization” and “Pastoral Care”. The two themes are related. In evangelization we proclaim the good news, so that others may believe and be baptized! In pastoral care we continue to love and care for the baptized!

In fact these two themes were present in the longer form of the gospel of last Sunday (Jn 21:1-19; SM; Faley; Brown)! In the shorter form of the gospel of last Sunday, Peter was presented to us as the fisherman, the fisher of men, to catch men for God, that is, evangelization; but the longer form of the gospel presented Peter to us as the shepherd who feeds Jesus’ sheep, that is, pastoral care!

Today the first reading also tells us about evangelization, and the second reading and the gospel tell us about pastoral care!

Three weeks ago on Easter Vigil Night our brothers and sisters received the three sacraments of Christian Initiation, namely, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! We need to continue to love and care for them! We need to invite them to be with us in the Alpha Course, the Prayer Meetings, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Legion of Mary, etc.!

Most importantly, parents and godparents must make sure that our newly baptised and confirmed attend Mass every Sunday! The shepherds must make sure that the sheep eat and drink every Sunday! Again, a happy Good Shepherd Sunday to all of you!  Amen!