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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday 4th (A) of Easter
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!
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 10,14): Alleluia. I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Jn 10:11-18): Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

“I am the good shepherd”

Fr. Josep VALL i Mundó (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Jesus tells us: “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11). When Saint Thomas Aquinas comments on this avowal, he writes “it is evident that the name of ‘shepherd’ suits Christ, for just as the shepherd leads his fold to the pasture, Christ feeds his flock with a spiritual food: his own body and blood”. It all begun with the Incarnation and Jesus carried it out all the way through, finally concluding it with His redeeming Death and Resurrection. Once resurrected, He entrusted Peter, the Apostles and the Church, with this shepherding till the end of time.

Through the shepherds, Christ gives His Word, spreads out His divine Grace with the sacraments and steers His flock towards the Kingdom: He offers Himself as our nourishment in the sacrament of the Eucharist, imparts God's Word and Magisterial teachings, and caringly leads His People. Jesus has picked up shepherds for His Church in accordance with their heart, that is, those men that, by impersonating Him through the sacrament of Holy Orders, donate their lives for their sheep, with pastoral charity, with spirit of humble service, with leniency, patience and fortitude. Saint Augustine frequently spoke of this shepherd's demanding responsibility: “This shepherd's honor worries me…, if what I am for you frighten me, what I am for you reassure me. For you I am a bishop, with you I am a Christian.”

And each one of us, Christians, work by supporting the shepherds, praying for them, loving them and following them. We are also shepherds for our brothers, by enriching them with the grace and doctrine we have received, by sharing their worries and joy and by helping everybody with all our heart. We go out of our way for all those encircling us in our familiar, social and professional world to the point of giving our life as a ransom for many of them with the same spirit of the Son of Man who “did not come to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “See if you are of his sheep, see if you know him, see if you perceive the light of Truth. Let us specify: if you perceive it, not by faith alone, but by love; not by merely believing, but by acting.” (Saint Gregory the Great)

  • “We fall down on our knees before the magnificence of the "Infinite Freedom" crucified. Jesus comes as the "good shepherd". But these are not just nice words: it is the reality! He literally gives himself up to death for us. And He does it with full freedom of Love.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “As for the Son, he effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power. Jesus announces that the Son of man will have to suffer much, die, and then rise. Elsewhere he affirms explicitly: ‘I lay down my life, that I may take it again... I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (Jn 10:17-18).” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 649)