4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd Sunday Acts 4: 8-12 Letter of John 3:1-2 John 10: 11-18
In the first reading, Peter stood up to authority and proclaimed that no healing would take place unless the power of Jesus initiated it. Even without Jesus around, the authorities were under the constant threat of opposition because the One they removed continued to have a public presence. The stage was set for the age of Christian martyrdom.
The response to this reading is a proclamation to the non-Christians that, even though Jesus was killed, he is now the cornerstone of a new movement. Jesus said, “My reign is not of this world.” Those who believe are realizing now that they are the ones who will continue the work.
These words from John in the second reading are perhaps the most comforting in all of scripture. If we live our lives aware of God’s love, and visualize the Our Father prayer, what have we to fear? If our death climaxes the occasion, God will immediately reveal our eternal presence in a world of peace without end. As we have sung so often: “You will see the face of God and live. Be not afraid I go before you always…”
Our Gospel reading has the image of God in the form of a simple shepherd; one who has the task of protecting life from the violence that may come from the surroundings.
The occupation of security and safekeeping has been rapidly increasing, and people need protecting more than ever. Unfortunately, too often people lose their lives as violence escalates.
This gospel message is for all of us. Now more than ever, those entrusted to our care need to be aware of God watching over us, and the role of leadership is to maintain life, rather than to destroy. Scattered, frightened sheep are much too prevalent in this world. Good shepherding begins with us and must be what we demand from our lawmakers.
Those in authority were threatened by the first Christians. We have the backing of the Triune God to speak that same truth Jesus taught so that all may live in verdant pastures.
Sister Dorothy Maxwell, O.P.