Saturday, April 20, 2013
4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER C
MEMORIAL, SAINT ANSELM OF CANTERBURY, BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER – C
Acts 13:14,43-52 / Ps 100: 1-2. 3. 5 / Rev 7:9,14-17 / Jn 10:27-30
They went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. After that, when the assembly broke up, many Jews and devout God-fearing people followed them and to these they spoke, urging them to hold fast to the grace of God. The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose with insults whatever Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, "It was necessary that God's word be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord: I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Those who were not Jews rejoiced when they heard this and praised the message of the Lord, and all those destined for everlasting life believed in it. Thus the Word spread throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas. Finally they had them expelled from their region. The apostles shook the dust from their feet in protest against this people and went to Iconium, leaving the disciples filled with joy and Holy Spirit.
After this I saw a great crowd, impossible to count, from every nation, race, people and tongue, standing before the throne and the Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, I answered, "Sir, it is you who know this." The elder replied, "They are those who have come out of the great persecution; they have washed and made their clothes white in the blood of the Lamb. This is why they stand before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his sanctuary. He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they suffer hunger or thirst or be burned by the sun or any scorching wind. For the Lamb near the throne will be their Shepherd, and he will bring them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away their tears."
My sheep hear my voice and I know them; they follow me and I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, and no one will ever steal them from me. What the Father has given me is above everything else, and no one can snatch it from out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are One."
Historians tell us that the earliest popular image of the Christian faith in the Lord Jesus was not the crucifix which is perhaps the most common image for us today. It was rather the image of the Lord as the caring and loving shepherd. We do know that the two images really come together in a sense as one, because the Good Shepherd's care and love for us is so great that the Shepherd gives up his life for the sheep.
On this Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, the Church is still celebrating the Easter mystery. We celebrate the truth of faith that the Lord who rose from the dead is really alive today and active among us with the care and the love of the Good Shepherd.
How can we describe this Good Shepherd? The evangelist of today's gospel places us as people who are listening to Jesus as he describes himself as the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep and hearing his voice, we, who are his sheep, follow him. What he gives us is life, eternal life, a share in his own eternal life. He gives that to us in a very personal way, for he calls each one of us by name. He is the Good Shepherd who guides back those who may stray and searches for those who may be lost and wandering in the desert. When the lost ones are found, he gently brings them back to the flock with great rejoicing.
The gentleness and caring affection that the Good Shepherd has for us who are his sheep is the gentle and caring affection of one who is willing to make any sacrifice for the good of the sheep. His gentleness is not one of mere sentimentality. There is real affection in his love for us, but there is also great courage, patience, and total self-sacrifice. In that way, the images of the gentle Shepherd and the Crucified Shepherd come together. He himself tells us that there is no greater love than the love of one who gives up even his life for those whom he loves.
Today, we pray for all those who have been chosen to be shepherds among us. We pray for our religious leaders that they may live and serve their flock according to the model of the Good Shepherd. We pray for parents and guardians of our youth who are chosen to be shepherds, too. We pray for our civic leaders and all who protect us with their service. And finally, we pray for each one of us that we may be shepherds to one another by the love and care we give to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
… for the speedy recovery and healing of Elizabeth Lim
… for the personal intentions of Beny Chua
… for families who are in need of healing
… for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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