Happy Easter! Yes it is still Easter. The farther away from Easter Sunday we get the more important it is to remind ourselves that the Church is still celebrating Easter. In fact the Resurrection is so central to Christianity that every Sunday, all year long, is a celebration of Easter. The Easter Season continues this week with the Fourth Sunday of Easter. This week the readings ask us to consider several questions. Do I hear and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd? How well do I reflect the attitude of Christ when things don’t go my way? Do I treasure the Gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to me at Baptism or do I ignore and forget it in my daily life?
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 4: 8-12
8 Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, 10 then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
NOTES on First Reading:
* 4:8-12 This is Peter’s first discourse before the Sanhedrin and, like the second (5:29-32), it is an apologia rather than a sermon but it tends to follow the same schema as the apostolic mission sermons to the Jews. Because of the context, in verse 12 there is a replacement of the usual call for repentance with a declaration of the saving power of Jesus.
The speech is a concise answer to the question asked by the interrogators in verse 7.
* 4:8 The first words of the verse remind the reader of the promise of the Spirit’s teaching.
* 4:10 The last two clauses of this verse are a condensed restatement of 3:12-15. It is the tersest formulation of the Christological kerygma found in the apostolic sermons to the Jews.
* 4:11 The early Christians applied this quote from Psalm 118:22 to Jesus. See also Mark 12:10; and 1 Peter 2:7.
* 4:12 In the Roman world of the first century, salvation was often attributed to the emperor who was hailed as “savior” and “god.” Peter’s words deny that deliverance comes through anyone other than Jesus.
Second Reading: 1 John 3: 1-2
1 See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 3:1-3 Jesus Himself is the greatest sign of God’s love because He is the Son of God given for us that has made Christians true children of God. Although this relationship is already a reality, it will not be fully manifest until the life to come. True knowledge of God will ultimately be gained but Christians prepare themselves now by virtuous lives in imitation of the Son.
There are three consequences of this affirmation:
Christians do not belong to the world which failed to receive Jesus (John 15:18-19; 17:14-16). Christians will lead lives of holiness like Christ (John 17:17-19). Christians are confident of an even greater salvation in the future (John 17:24).
* 3:2 The Him who will be revealed is most probably Christ. There was a common theme in Hellenistic religious literature “that like would know like.” The human who knows God is Divinized. For the Johannine tradition this was mediated through Jesus. Jesus possessed the Divine name and equality with God (John 17:11-12). He has shared that name with His followers (John 17:6, 26). They in turn have shared Jesus’ fate at the hands of the world (John 15:21) and will witness His glory (John 17:24). see also 1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 3:18.
Gospel Reading: John 10: 11-18
(Jesus said:) 11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 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.”
NOTES on Gospel:
* 10:11-13 The Greek word, “kalos,” which is translated as “good” means good in the sense of noble or ideal not simply “good at” something. The bad shepherd lets the sheep be eaten by wolves but the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. Mark 14:27 refers to Zech 13:7 about the slaying of the shepherd and the scattering of the sheep. It seems that the good shepherd image was already part of the passion tradition and not a particularly Johannine image.
* 10:14-15 This saying of Jesus is more characteristically from John’s tradition. It emphasizes how the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is like the relationship between Jesus and the Father. This relationship is the basis for the sacrifice that Jesus makes for the sheep. John 15:12-17 uses the imagery of friendship to describe Jesus’ death in the context of such a relationship.
* 10:16 The mention of other sheep may refer to the Gentiles or possibly it may be a reference to “God’s dispersed children” destined to be gathered into one in John 11:52. It may also be a reference to “apostolic Christians” at odds with the community of the beloved disciple. This term takes in all the communities founded by the other apostles.
* 10:18 Notice the contrast between this statement and the role of the Father as the efficient cause of the resurrection in Acts 2:24; 4:10; etc.; Romans 1:4; 4:24. But even here is added: This command I have received from my Father. </font