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Sunday, 30th April 2023
Fourth Sunday of Easter Cycle A
Readings on p.495 in the Daily Missal and p.255 in the Sunday Missal

Entrance Antiphon
The merciful love of the Lord, fills the earth; by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, alleluia.

First Reading: Acts 2: 14a, 36-41

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

[On the day of Pentecost,]
Peter, standing with the eleven,
lifted up his voice and said to the multitude,
“Let all the house of Israel know assuredly
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart,
and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles,
“Brethren, what shall we do?” 

And Peter said to them,
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 
For the promise is to you and to your children
and to all that are far off,
every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 
And he testified with many other words
and exhorted them, saying,
“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 

So those who received his word were baptized,
and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 

The Word of the Lord

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 (R.1)

Let us pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me;
he revives my soul.

He guides me along the right path,
for the sake of his name.
Though I should walk in the valley
of the shadow of death,
no evil would I fear, for you are with me.
Your crook and your staff will give me comfort.

You have prepared a table before me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for the length of days unending.

R/: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading: 1 Peter 2: 20b-25

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Peter

Brothers and sisters:

If when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently,
you have God’s approval. 
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 
He committed no sin;
no guile was found on his lips. 
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return;
when he suffered, he did not threaten;
but he trusted to him who judges justly. 
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed. 
For you were straying like sheep,
but have now returned
to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

The Word of the Lord

Please stand for the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own, and my own know me.
Alleluia.

Gospel: John 10: 1-10

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

At that time:
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you,
he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door
but climbs in by another way,
that man is a thief and a robber; 
but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 
To him the gatekeeper opens;
the sheep hear his voice,
and he calls his own 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,
but they will flee from him,
for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 
This figure Jesus used with them,
but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them,
“Truly, truly, I say to you,
I am the door of the sheep. 
All who came before me are thieves and robbers;
but the sheep did not heed them. 
I am the door;
if any one enters by me,
he will be saved,
and will go in and out and find pasture. 
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

The Gospel of the Lord

Homile

A young priest was teaching the Psalm 23 in catechism. 

  • He told the children about sheep, that they weren’t smart and needed lots of guidance, and that a shepherd’s job was to stay close to the sheep, protect them from wild animals and keep them from wandering off.  
  • He pointed to the little children in the room and said that they were the sheep and needed lots of guidance.  
  • Then the priest put his hands out to the side, palms up in a dramatic gesture, and with raised eyebrows said to the children,
    • “If you are the sheep, then who is the shepherd?”  
  • He was pretty sure that all the kids would point out to him as the shepherd. 
  • A silence of a few seconds followed.  
  • Then a young girl said, “Jesus! Jesus is the shepherd.”  
  • The young priest, obviously caught by surprise, said to the little girl, “Well then, who am I?”  
  • The girl frowned thoughtfully and then said with a shrug, “I guess you must be a sheep dog.”

I have a friend who signed up to receive daily brief meditations by e-mail. 

  • She says, “It’s the first thing I read at work. 
  • I take a breath, read, reflect for a moment and then get to the hundred e-mails waiting for my immediate response. 
  • It’s crazy! My day has begun! 
  • But that moment’s reflection helps me keep my head about me, gives me a central focus on how I relate to my co-workers and my work.”

It is crazy how busy life is, and how much comes at us each day. 

  • There is so much to distract us and keep us from paying attention to what’s really going on in our lives. 
  • So says an article on spirituality I recently read.
  • The article was entitled, “The Sounds of Silence.” 
  • And it was about just what the title suggests. 

It lamented the loss of our interior lives, the absence of some silence, because we are so distracted all the time by noise – especially produced by electronic diversions. 

  • In particular – cell phones. 
  • There’s no escaping! We all have a cell phone at hand, and if not texting, receiving texts, playing games, listening to music, making calls, checking news feeds, checking chat groups – it never ends.
  • Plus, we always seem to be surrounded by sound tracks and video displays which invade our space in malls, restaurants and other public places. 
  • Imagine: a writer suggesting we need more silence and solitude! 
  • He says we don’t have to become monks or nuns;
    • but we do need conditions that help us sort things out. 
    • Because otherwise, 
    • we are distracted and the more distracted we are, 
    • the more distracted we’ll become.

The bottom line is this: we have to distinguish what’s “idle chatter” coming at us from the outside, misguiding us (throwing us off centre), from what our true inner voice is saying to us. 

  • Our true inner voice is there to try to keep us focused and on centre.

There weren’t cell phones and emails in Jesus’ day. 

  • But they were a lot like us, also drawn by competing voices. 
  • Every generation needs a voice we can trust, to inspire us and help us set the pattern of our lives. 
  • Using the image of a caring and guiding shepherd, Jesus presents himself to us as that trustworthy voice. 
  • He calls his disciples and us today, to be attentive to his voice and separate it from all the other voices that tug on us and draw us here and there. 
  • His voice, he says, will keep us together and also guide us on our journey. 
  • Using the image of the gospel today – his voice will guard our “coming in and going out.”

That describes our lives doesn’t it? 

  • We are on a journey. 
  • There are very few periods when things are smooth and unchanging for long. 
  • We journey through childhood into adulthood; through changes in jobs and careers. 
  • We enter into and, sometimes out of, relationships. 
  • We pass through periods of health and then illness and, we hope, health again. 
  • And of course, there is the inevitable journey we take from youth to adulthood, to old-age and then death. 
  • All along we make choices: some are well made, others we wish we could take back and do all over again.

There are a lot of voices out there that only distract and scatter us. 

  • They really don’t care how, or where we end up, or whether were going around in circles. 
  • Perhaps we’ve paid too much attention to them. 
  • They don’t have our best interests at heart.
    • They just want us to buy what they’re selling; 
    • They just want us to choose what everyone else chooses; 
    • They just want us live with the same values as those around us, (the least common denominator); 
    • They just want us to blend in with everyone else. 

But Jesus the Good Shepherd wants to gather us. 

  • He wants to give us rest from futility and wasted energies. 
  • His voice can help us keep our wits about us in our often-misguided world. 
  • There’s a lot to manoeuvre through in life. 
  • Lots of big and small decisions to make along the way, some of which can alter our lives and have long-term effects. 
  • The question is: what and who will help us make these decisions? 
  • Where do we turn for clarity and consistency?

Jesus the Good Shepherd is inviting us again to be more attentive to him because he has invested his life in us. 

  • He wants to help us along life’s journey:
    • our journey towards God; 
    • our journey to become more trusting; 
    • our journey to become more patient with ourselves and others; 
    • our journey to become less controlling; 
    • our journey to put the past behind us and start afresh; 
    • our journey to become more forgiving.

We may misunderstand the voice of Jesus the shepherd, ignore it, resist it, button our ears tight against it.

  • After school – searching for purpose – make a difference
  • Am I called? – resisted call – think about it next year
    • scared of committing my life for ever
  • VIP part of my discernment was asking: Is this a call from God or am I looking to escape from the world – looking for security.
  • 10 years after school – entered seminary – ordained a priest in 1995.
  • as a priest I encounter people when they are vulnerable – times of illness – death – hurt and woundedness
  • encounter people in times of great joy – eucharist – baptism – marriage – celebrations – community
  • in all these situations – help to find God – often who seems hidden from us.
  • Most challenging – when people feel they don’t need God – discover the sense of presence of the Divine
  • “the sheep hear his voice,
    and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” 

From today’s gospel: 

Amen, amen, I say to you,

whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate,

but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.

But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 

The gatekeeper opens it for him and the sheep hear his voice

as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 

Reflection:

Our Shepherd Jesus, isn’t just a leader of a flock: we are not just part of a crowd. He “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” It’s good to know we are not lost in the crowd, or just another person in the pews, one of the anonymous sheep. There are times in our lives when we need to be reminded that Jesus knows us “by name.” In biblical language, to know a person’s name is to know the person. So, we are well known and our needs are recognized by the Risen Christ in our midst. 

So we ask ourselves:

  • Have I experienced a personal, “by name” call from Jesus? When? 
  • Where do I feel Jesus is leading me at this point in my life? 
  • Am I responding, or resisting that call?

Communion Antiphon

The Good Shepherd has risen, who laid down his lie for his sheep, and willingly died for his flock, alleluia.

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