My Dear Parishioners
The fourth Sunday of Easter has come to be known as Good Shepherd Sunday because in all three years of the liturgical cycle the gospel reading is taken from chapter ten of John’s Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd…..I will lay down my life for the sheep.” He did so by freely dying on the cross. Jesus also said, “No one takes (my life) from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again.” For Jesus, the Good Shepherd, death is not a defeat. Glorified in resurrection, Jesus takes up His life again, invites all to the sheepfold, and makes them one flock of which He is the one shepherd.
This shepherd, who has given His life for his sheep, continues the work He has begun in the world. Jesus raises his voice inviting those who are lost to hear His call and come together in one flock, led by one shepherd, in whose presence they can find rest. To let oneself be guided by the Good Shepherd is to love Him, and with Him, to love the Father.
Today’s second reading also picks up the theme of a loving caregiver, but we are children of God rather then sheep. See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Images of shepherding or being called chosen children evoke the mystery of a God who has great love for us. God invites us into an intimate, lasting relationship which allows us to share forever in His divine life. The key to such a living relationship is communication, keeping in touch with God through prayer, prayerful scripture reading, and receiving the Eucharist.
When Peter and John were questioned by the Jewish leaders about the cure of a lame man, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke with force, assurance, and concern that he be heard far and near. It was done in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene who was crucified, and whom God raised from the dead. Peter proclaimed that it was in the name of Jesus that this man was healed. This Jesus is the stone, rejected by the builders, which has become the cornerstone. Peter was thoroughly convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead and he wanted to impress that on the minds of all who were within hearing distance. Peter had the courage to speak the truth no matter the cost.
As we meditate upon today’s Scriptures, let us ask ourselves whether we truly belong to the sheepfold of Jesus. Is He our good shepherd or do we look to someone else? Can we identify with Jesus as he was rejected by His own friends? And finally, do we rejoice in being called children of God, and do we understand what a great privilege it is and give thanks?
God Bless, Msgr. Maresca