Acts of the Apostles 4:8-12
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: “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 Nazarene whom you crucified, whom 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.”
1 John 3:1-2
Beloved: 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 Cycle Cycle B
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 the 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.”
This is always called “Good Shepherd” Sunday because the Gospel each year is about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. When the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells us that there is salvation through no one else, it is important for us to hear how strong this is. Today many of us Catholic have not been brought up on a strong diet of good Catholic teaching. We can find ourselves doubting many aspects of what our Church teaches, often because we have never thought about such things before and often because the teachings were never explained to us.
The first thing to remember is that God is love. This was the theme of the first Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI and it is the very heart of understanding what Jesus proclaims in the New Testament. The Good Shepherd theme is simply another way of expressing that love. God will always give His life for ours. God will give His life for my life.
Along with this theme of love, we must recognize that there is no other way to be loved other than in Christ. This is what we are trying to say when we say that there is no salvation through anyone else. All authentic love is an encounter with Jesus Christ, even though we are not always aware of that encounter. The more we come to know Jesus Christ personally, the more authentic and profound our love can become, both for God and for one another.
The Good Shepherd is always there, looking for us, but also teaching us. The Good Shepherd seeks us out to show us what love truly is. For our part, we must seek out the Good Shepherd so that we can give our energies over to loving and being transformed. It is something that is clear in the Gospels over and over: the kingdom of God, the love of God, the teachings of our God, are like treasure hidden in the field. We need to give up everything that we have or want in order to purchase that field and discover the treasure that is there.
So often people can say things like “life is really boring,” “life is really not very good,” “life is just waiting for death,” etc. When we find the treasure in the field, life is radiant and fills us with love and energy. There is salvation through no one else than through our Lord Jesus Christ.
May we come to know Him a little more this Sunday and may we make a stronger commitment to try to know Him more and more. Let us rejoice in His love for us.