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.”
Jesus tells us that He is the gate for the sheep. This is an image that is to help us understand that Jesus protects us and watches over us always and everywhere. If a shepherd leaves his flock on its own, the flock will scatter and the sheep will be lost. This is also an image that teaches us that we belong to one flock and that we are called to learn to live as a community.
The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, shows us the Apostles preaching and evangelizing in the name of Jesus. The message is simple: repentance and baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repentance implies that we recognize that we are sinners. This is not popular today. Yet anyone with spiritual vision is able to see that we humans fail so frequently at so many things. Sin is missing the mark. It can be serious or it can be less serious. It always implies that there is some objective for which we have been created.
Baptism is a gift that we can renew regularly. At times we remind ourselves of our baptism simply by using Holy Water. At other times, especially during the Easter Season, we renew our baptismal promises. All of this points us to the Holy Spirit.
We can ask ourselves about the energy of our lives: does it come from our living in Christ or is it still just something human? There is nothing wrong with our humanity other than sin, but the strength of the Holy Spirit is so incredibly different from our mere human energies. This whole Easter Season points us to Pentecost and to the Holy Spirit.
So we return to the image of the Good Shepherd in the second reading today, from the First Letter of Peter, we can reflect on this part of the reading: 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.
From this second reading, we can see that it is repentance that renews our baptism and our relationship with the shepherd and guardian of our souls.
Once more the Gospel teaches us: Jesus is the gate for the sheep. May Jesus be our gate today and always. May we become more the sheep of his flock. May we be strong in our Christian communities and faithful to the Church. The Church is truly the body of Christ and we belong to that body. Christ is risen! Christ is our Shepherd. Let us be His flock and rejoice in Him!