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 Fourth Sunday of Easter is always focused on the Good Shepherd. This focus helps us understand our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, because He loves us and has given up His life for us.
In the Acts of the Apostles today, we hear Saint Peter still arguing with the leaders of the Jewish people of his time. The reason for this argument is that the leaders of the people want the followers of Jesus to quit proclaiming Him as God, to quit doing miracles and to stop drawing others into this early Christian movement. Better than this opposition is the advice of Gamaliel in the Gospel: if this work is of only human origin, it will come to nothing. If it is from God, then nothing can stop it. We human tend to argue rather than to wait. On the other hand, you and I live in a time distant from the beginnings and can see that the followers of Christ were successful in spite of persecutions.
But what is success? Does it mean that we now have a Christian world? If that is the criterion, we live a grand failure! Does it mean that Christians have power? Again, if that is the criterion, we live another grand failure! If the criterion is the conversion of hearts to God, then there is some moderate success in every age.
The First Letter of John reminds us that we are children of God. The author is not sure what that will mean and neither do we know. Yet we know that it is about God’s love for us and invites our response to that love.
The Gospel today, from Saint John, is about the Good Shepherd. Jesus is not afraid to call Himself the Good Shepherd. He is the one who lays down His life for us. How easily we forget that. Instead we begin to look for our own advantage rather than looking for how we can join our lives to that of Jesus and share in His love for our world.
Easter is about joy and gladness and salvation—coming because Jesus rose from the dead after He died for us. We marvel at the Resurrection because, like those early followers, we find it difficult to believe that someone could die for us, and really die! Even more difficult to believe is that Jesus rose from the dead. All of this is difficult only if we do not believe that Jesus is Lord and God for us all.
You and I are invited in this time of Easter to renew our personal relationship with Jesus. We are invited to deepen our knowledge of all that happened in Him and through Him. We are invited to walk with Jesus on the Way and give our lives for others. Christ is risen, alleluia! May we be one with Him.