Reflections

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, MAY 12, 2019 

GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY

1. I Call Them by Their Name
2. The Voice of the Shepherd 

Introduction
1. I Call Them by Their Name
It is very reassuring to know that our guide or community leader knows us personally and calls us by our name. It makes us say or think: He knows me and I know him. This calls for deeper trust and loyalty and love. On the Sunday of the Good Shepherd Jesus himself reminds us how he knows us personally. At the same time the fact that we know him too, at least a bit, changes our whole life. For knowing him, we know God. We experience in him God’s goodness and care and close presence in everyday life. Would that we could also be near to one another and Jesus’ pastors and shepherds could be close to their people. 

2. The Voice of the Shepherd
Who are the pastors, the shepherds, whom people trust and listen to? As if instinctively they entrust themselves to priests who do not preach themselves but the Lord Jesus and his Good News. They listen to and confide in priests who know them and who also take the time to listen to them and their problems and hopes. For in them they recognize something of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and model of all shepherds. Let us join our Good Shepherd in his thanks to the Father. 

First Reading: Pastors Are Taking Risks
Jesus’ Good News was first to be brought to the Jews, but it cannot be restricted to one group; it is destined for all. The conflict of Paul and Barnabas with the Jews becomes the occasion to preach directly to the pagans. 

1 Reading: Acts 13:14, 43-52
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: Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5

R.(3c) We are his people, the sheep of his flock. Or: R. Alleluia.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song. R.

Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends. R.

The LORD is good:
his kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations. R.

Second Reading: The Lamb Will Be their Shepherd
People from every race, people and culture will follow the Lamb as their Shepherd and be guided by him to eternal life. 

2 Reading: Rev 7:9, 14b-17
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 John 10:14
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel: Those Who Hear My Voice Follow Me
Jesus is our Good Shepherd; he knows us personally, and leads us to the fullness of life if we are willing to go his way. 

Gospel: John 10:27-30
Jesus said:v“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.” 

Commentary
“I and the Father are one.” This is one of “hard sayings” of Jesus. He is not saying it in a weak sense: that he and the Father are of like mind, etc. In Greek, it says, literally, “I and the Father are one thing.” Had his hearers understood him in the weak sense they would not have taken up stones immediately to kill him. The union of Jesus with the Father is the inexhaustible mystery of our Faith.
It is not only about Jesus; it has to do with us too. In this age when so much emphasis is placed on the individual, we are inclined to see Jesus too just as an individual—a special one, to be sure, but still an individual. That could not be a full account of Jesus. He is “the first-born of many brothers and sisters,” “He is the head, we are the body.” He came into the world for us, not for himself. Meister Eckhart had an overpowering sense of the union of every Christian with God in Christ. “The soul is one with God and not united. Here is a simile: if we fill a tub with water, the water in the tub is united but not one with it, for where there is water there is no wood, and where there is wood there is no water. Now take the wood and throw it in the middle of the water, still the wood is only united and not one (with the water). It is different with the soul: she becomes one with God and not united, for where God is, there the soul is and where the soul is, there God is.” 

Blessing
In this Eucharistic celebration
Christ has been with us as our Good Shepherd.
May he also stay with us in life
and guide us through his Holy Spirit.
May he make us shepherds to one another,
people who care, who support and uplift.
May we thus become to the world
a sign of God’s caring, faithful love,
with the blessing of almighty God
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen. 

Let us go in the peace and the joy of the Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia!
R/ Thanks be to God.  Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

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