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Liturgical day: Monday 4th (B & C) of Easter

Saints April 23rd: George, martyr

1st Reading (Acts 11:1-18): The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers confronted him, saying, «You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them». Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying: «I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat’. But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth’. But a second time a voice from heaven answered, ‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane’. This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.

»Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying: ‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved’. As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’. If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?». When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, «God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too».
Responsorial Psalm: 41
R/. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God. Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place.

Then will I go in to the altar of God, the God of my gladness and joy. Then will I give you thanks upon the harp, o God, my God!
Verscicle before the Gospel (Jn 10:14): I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.

Gospel text (Jn 10,1-10): Jesus said: «Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, rather they will run away from him because they don't recognize a stranger's voice». Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus said, «Truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food. The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness».

«The shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate (…). The sheep follow him for they know his voice»

Fr. Francesc PERARNAU i Cañellas
(Girona, Spain)

Today, we keep mulling over one of the most beautiful and well known images of Jesus' preaching: the Good Shepherd, his sheep and the gate. We all keep in our memory the figure of that good Shepherd we were able to look at, as children. An icon well beloved by the first fold, that already belongs to the Christian sacred art at the time of the catacombs. How many memories can be aroused in us that young shepherd with the wounded sheep on his shoulders! We have, quite often, seen ourselves projected in the figure of that poor animal.

Only a few days ago, we were still celebrating Easter and, once more, we have been reminded that Jesus did not speak in a figurative language when He was saying that the good shepherd offers his life for his sheep. For He really did it: his life was the price He paid for our retrieval; with his life He bought ours, and thanks to that deliverance we have been rescued: «I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved» (Jn 10:9). We find here the great mystery of the ineffable love of God that reaches unthinkable extremes to save each human creature. Jesus brings his love to the extreme, to the point, of offering his own life. We can still hear the echo of St. John's words in his Gospel, introducing us to the moments of His Passion: «Before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end» (Jn 13:1).

Of the words of Jesus, I would suggest our paying a deeper attention to these ones: «I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me» (Jn 10:14); even more so, «The sheep hear his voice (...) and the sheep follow him for they know his voice» (Jn 10:3-4). It is true Jesus knows us, but, can we also say we know Him well enough, that we love Him and we reciprocate as we should?