Gospel, Readings and reflection 8.5.22

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Lectionary: 51

Reading I

Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga
and reached Antioch in Pisidia.
On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats.
Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism
followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them
and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered
to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy
and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers
and the leading men of the city,
stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,
and expelled them from their territory.
So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them,
and went to Iconium.
The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm

R (3c) We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
Alleluia.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
 We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
R  Alleluia.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
 We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:

The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
 We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
or:
 Alleluia.

Reading II

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

Then one of the elders said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  “For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.  They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

REFLECTION

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27

Jesus offers a clear contrast among shepherds.  This would apply to priests, parents and all of us in our own unique way.  The contrast He offers is between the ones who care deeply for those entrusted to their care, and those who are just going through the motions and are more motivated by selfishness than sacrificial love.

Jesus perfectly manifested sacrificial love as the Divine Shepherd.  He was willing to go all the way for us, His sheep.  He was willing to sacrifice everything.  He did not let suffering, persecution, rejection and the like deter Him from His responsibility of caring for us in a total and complete way.  It should inspire us, console us and encourage us to know how deep His love for us really is.

This love is seen, also, in the unwavering love of a parent, sibling, or dear friend.  When the love one offers us is unwavering, especially in difficult times, this is a great support.  And love offered to another like this forges a deep spiritual bond that is stronger than any hardship we may face.  No matter what “wolf” comes our way, we must know of the unwavering support of the Divine Shepherd.  And when we can see that love made manifest in the unwavering support of others, we are doubly blessed.

But the contrast should not be ignored either.  Jesus gives the example of “a hired man who is not a shepherd” who sees the wolf coming and runs.  It’s important to point out how damaging this man is to the people of God.  When he runs from his responsibility and gives into selfish motivation, he leaves the flock untended and vulnerable to attack.

We should see in this hired man the temptation we all inevitably face in life.  It’s hard to stick with it through the hard times.  It’s hard to be there for those who need us when they need us.  It’s hard to be faithful in all things and to never shy away in the face of the temptation of fear.

Jesus offers His unwavering love and support to us as our Shepherd, but He also wants us to return this gift to Him by offering this same unwavering commitment to one another.

Reflect, today, how well you imitate the Good Shepherd.  Where you are lacking, let Him shepherd you so that you may shepherd others.  Run to the Good Shepherd and trust in His perfect love for you.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I thank You for Your unwavering support of me as my Shepherd.  And I thank You for those who act as Your instruments of this deep love and commitment.  Help me to fulfill my role of shepherding Your people, the people You have placed in my life.  May I never run from the glorious responsibility You have called me to.  Jesus, I trust in You.