Acts of the Apostles 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.
1 Peter 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 Cycle Cycle A
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.”
There is only one Good Shepherd. Does that mean that we all recognize Him? From the Gospel it seems unlikely. Rather, the sheep seem ultimately only to recognize the voice of the Lord, who comes not to steal or slaughter or destroy, but to give Thelife.
These are reassuring words who us who seek the living God, who seek to know the God revealed to us in the Church and in Scripture. There are so many voices at various times, all seeking our allegiance and telling us that each one has the way to salvation. Salvation is not a lottery. Salvation is not finding something that makes us happy. Salvation is following the authentic voice of God in His Church and in His Scriptures.
In the Acts of the Apostles in today’s reading, we have this incredible conversion story, all from preaching the word of Scriptures. The eleven clearly knew the Word of God and could preach it because it was clear to them that Jesus was its fulfillment. The more we come to understand the Word of God and allow it to possess us, within the Church, the stronger can become our own conversion. This also give us authority to speak with others about God and His Word.
Only if we ourselves are personally convinced that Jesus is the Savior of all can we have the strength to proclaim Him to others. When we become convinced that He is Savior, we are not afraid to point out sins: lying, covetousness, lust, adultery, stealing, fornication—the whole list that Saint Paul gives us. Today we add the particular problems of abortion and homosexual acts.
The First Letter of Peter reminds us that we are all saved in Jesus Christ. None of the sins mentioned above can keep us from Christ. Rather the more we come to Christ, the more we see that in Christ alone is our possibility of living free from sin and in the freedom of the children of God.
The voice of the Good Shepherd has a difficult time today, in the present age, when our secular society often tells us that what Christians consider as sinful actions are instead virtuous actions and actions that are needed to be fully human. Nevertheless, the more we live in Christ—not in our thoughts, not in daydreaming, not in theological or religious abstraction—the more we come to live in the wisdom of God and become free from our passions so that we can walk in the way of the Lord, following the Good Shepherd. May we hear the authentic voice of Jesus today.