25Apr April 25 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter

April 25 2021
Fourth Sunday of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 4:8-12

By the power of the risen Jesus we can be saved

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Responsorial: from Psalm 118

R./: The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes. (R./)

I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my saviour.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes. (R./)

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
we bless you from the house of the Lord.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my saviour.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his kindness endures forever. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 John 3:1-2

The love of the Father, lavished on all God’s children

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Gospel: John 10:11-18

Christ is the true Shepherd; nobody can take away his sheep

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.

And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd. The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to lay it down, so it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father.’


Pastors who care for people

Jesus illustrates his teaching by referring to shepherds and sheep, seeing himself as the Good Shepherd foretold by the prophets. It’s about the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. Though the imagery is old, the message is topical. It is relevant to us here and now. . By faith we accept Jesus, and our relationship is a deeply personal one. The bond of love uniting us is based on the love that unites the Father and Jesus. Our new existence is founded on God’s unbreakable love and faithfulness.

In order to enter eternal life we must listen to Jesus and obey him. The alternative opening prayer puts this in practical terms. We have to tune our minds to the sound of his voice. Self-centredness can make us deaf to the voice of Jesus. Easy options can draw us into easier paths than the one he has traced. Pressure to abandon Christian principles is inevitable. But God is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond our strength. No one can drag us away from him, The Father has entrusted us to his Son. The same God who kept faith with Jesus by raising him from the dead will also raise us by his power.

Paul and Barnabas ‘spoke out boldly’, and made an impact. A courageous proclamation of the gospel to our contemporaries can be as fruitful now as it was in apostolic times. All the baptized, particularly those who are confirmed, are bound to spread the faith. Laity as well as priests and religious are in the service of the Risen Lord. Our faith urges us to take personal part in the work of evangelisation. Are we doing so? How many evils persist in our society just because good people say nothing and do nothing? A breviary hymn of Eastertide (no.25) spells out what is expected of us by the Risen Lord: Now he bids us tell abroad/How the lost may be restored/How the penitent forgiven/ How we too may enter heaven.

“Good Shepherd Sunday” is an opportunity to think and pray about how priestly ministry the catholic church will fare into the future. In 2015 Ireland the average age of ordained priests is about sixty five, a statistic that urgently calls for significant change in how we recruit priests for the future, and what is to be expected of them. In a recent article about this impending crisis, Pádraig McCarthy invites us to remember that there is no such thing as a priest-less parish. “There may not be an ordained priest as is the practice at present, but the parish is a priestly people. How will this take flesh in the coming decades? Are there factors which had value in the past which now are an obstacle to the mission of the church? What new model of ministerial priesthood is called for?” Fr. McCarthy divides the shepherding challenge into three questions that are worth examining by bishops, priests and laity:

1) Who will be the true shepherds in the coming years?
2) How will those shepherds carry out the mission to those outside the fold?
3) What needs to change in the Catholic Church, so that each local community can have a full Eucharistic celebration every Sunday?


A very personal relationship

When people go to Rome on pilgrimage, they usually try to include a visit to the Catacombs, the earliest Christian cemeteries in existence. The earliest Christian art is there in the catacombs, in images are very simple and unadorned compared to the art that would emerge in later centuries. Yet these pictures are very striking just because of their simplicity and directness. One of the images of Jesus most found in the catacombs is that of the Good Shepherd. One is in the Catacomb of San Callistus, showing a young beardless man with a sheep draped around his shoulders and holding a bucket of water in his right hand. Clearly the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd that we find in today’s gospel spoke to Christians from the earliest days of the church.

The shepherd image in the catacombs appealed to Christians from the start, because it conveys the personal nature of the relationship between Jesus and his followers; it portrays the close personal care that the shepherd has for the sheep. The shepherd has gone looking for the one sheep that was wandered off and having found it, he takes it home to the flock upon his shoulders. There is a bond between the shepherd and this one sheep. That is what Jesus conveys in today’s gospel. He declares that he knows his own and his own know him, just as the Father knows him and he knows the Father. It is an extraordinary statement to make. Jesus is saying that the very personal relationship he has with his heavenly Father is the model for the equally personal relationship he has with each one of us. Jesus knows us as intimately as the Father knows him, and he wants us to know him as intimately as he knows the Father. There is a great deal to ponder there. When it comes to the Lord we are not just one of a crowd, lost in a sea of faces. In a way that we will never fully understand, the Lord knows each one of us by name. He relates to us in a personal way and he invites us to relate to him in a personal way. He wishes to enter into a personal relationship with each one of us. I am often struck by a line in Saint Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia, where he says, ‘I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’. We can each make our own those words of Saint Paul. When Jesus says in today’s gospel that, as the good shepherd, ‘I lay down my life for my sheep’, he is saying that he lays down his life for each one of us individually.

The Lord who knows us by name, who gave himself in love for each one of us, also calls us by name. Today is Vocations Sunday. The Lord has a calling that is personal to each one of us. He calls us in our uniqueness with our very particular temperament, our unique identity, the background that is specific to each one of us. No one of us is like anyone else. Parents know how distinct and unique each of their children is. They will all have been given the same love; they grow up in basically the same environment. Yet, from a very early age, their uniqueness becomes very evident. The family is a microcosm of the church as a whole. From the time of our baptism, we are each called to be the Lord’s disciples, to follow the good Shepherd. However, the way we do that will be unique to each one of us. The particular way in which the Lord works through us is unique to each one of us. I can do something for the Lord that only I can do. Each person in this church can do something for the Lord that only he or she can do. Each one of us has a unique contribution to make to the work of the Lord in the world, to the life of the church, and that contribution is just as vital as anyone else’s contribution. We each have a unique vocation and each vocation is equally significant. Each one of us is vitally important to the Lord. When we each respond to our unique vocation, we give a lift to everyone else. When any one of us fails to respond to that vocation, we are all a little bit impoverished.

The first reading talks about the stone that was rejected by the builders becoming the keystone of the building. There is a clear reference there to Jesus himself, the rejected one. We can all feel at times like the rejected stone, for whatever reason. Yet, we are never rejected in the Lord’s eyes. He continues to call us in the way that is unique to us. He sees us as the keystone for some aspect of his work. He recognizes the potential for good that is within us all. On this Vocations Sunday we commit ourselves anew to hearing and responding to the call of the good shepherd.


4 Responses

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:
    The Holy Spirit is the good shepherd, gift of God.

    Homily:
    Takeaway from First Reading:

    The Apostle Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit when He said that the crippled man was healed by the name of Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the name of Jesus is power. There is no other name by which we can be saved. God has provided no other alternative for our salvation.

    We need to realise that we too have the same luxury of using our Lord Jesus’ name. We can ask for healing for the sick, freedom from poverty, any need in the name of Jesus. Jesus has promised in John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

    Whenever we pray, we should pray in the name of our dear Jesus!

    Takeaway from Second Reading:

    We are God’s children! When people say that we are not worth anything or nobody wants us, then we tend to get disheartened. It’s because we give more importance to what people say to us about who we are, than what God says to us. God says that we are His children. Even if we feel that we are not wanted by anyone in this world, that’s not the truth – Almighty God wants us. Our Lord Jesus, our dear Mother Mary and the whole of heaven want us!

    Can the loving hearts of our dear Lord Jesus and our Mother Mary ignore us?
    Is it correct for us to feel unwanted, when our Jesus spent 3 hours hanging on the cross, just for us?
    Jesus did not cure Lazarus when he was sick, but He raised up Lazarus when he was dead.
    Do not worry when situations get from bad to worse, it’s then our resurrection is due!

    Takeaway from Gospel Reading:

    We all are aware that sheep are calm, peaceful, and defenceless animals. They are very sure that they are safe when they are with their shepherd. They follow the shepherd wherever He leads them. They do not worry. They stay in peace because they know that their shepherd is taking care of them.

    Jesus is our good shepherd and He will guide us throughout our life. When we are facing tough situations, we need to remember that we are the good sheep. We need to stay calm as we know that as long as we are with our good shepherd, all is good. Let us not panic nor complain. Our good shepherd will take care of us. He will fight all our battles. He is the source from which our blessing flows.
    Jesus is our good shepherd, who gave His life for His sheep (for us).

    Tips to be an obedient flock of the Good Shepherd:

    1. The Holy Spirit guides us as our Good Shepherd. He tells us what to do, but He gives us an option whether to follow it or not. He wants us to choose our will as His will. However challenging it may look like, take a bold step of faith and just do it. Once you start doing it, you will be able to see God setting things right just for you.

    2. Our dear Lord Jesus wants us to be protected and feel secured. He wants to set a table of blessings before us in the face of our enemies. If people are persecuting you unjustly, your persecutors will witness a table of blessings set before you.

    3. Adversity brings us closer to God than blessings. When you walk in the path of adversity, be happy that you are coming one step closer to God.

    4. God corrects us when we are due for correction. Though we are due for correction always, God does not correct us all at once, but He does it stage by stage. We do not even realise that we are being corrected by God. Sometimes we should stop and think about the corrections we have received and how far we have travelled – from how we were earlier to how we are now. God does an amazing teaching, just through our day-to-day activities. Now, let’s consider what will happen if we do not listen to His silent correction – it will come through people and it will be annoyingly aloud. So better to listen to God’s silent correction.

    5. Satan has come to steal everything good that God has planned for us in our lives. When we want to do something good, then we will have many hindrances. It’s because Satan does want us to finish the good task. He will accept if we start something, but he will try to jump in when we are in the middle and obstruct us from reaching the end. The only thing that we need to do is recognise the hindrances, understand that the obstacles are intentionally placed there and not give in to it. When Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus overcame the temptations by quoting the word of God. God created the world with His words. His words are very powerful. God said ‘let the sun be there’, and lo the sun was created! Quote His words and Satan will fly away from you. Instead of Satan testing you, you test him by not paying attention to his destructive works.

    6. Are we enjoying every day of our lives or are we waiting for our wishes to be satisfied? If we do not enjoy the daily little joys of our lives, while we are working or waiting, then we will not enjoy our journey of life. We spend more time in life waiting than reaching the goal. Jesus gives us little joys on the way to green pastures also. Let us enjoy the walk to green pastures!

    Can a sheep feel insecure in its shepherd’s hands? When we are in the hands of our dear Jesus, should we worry?

  2. RICHARD J NGOWI

    Great Homily; be blessed

  3. Jim Mannion

    In the 1st reading of April 26, 2021 Peter makes a powerful statement: “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.”
    I know this is true but how do I discuss this with non-believers without appearing to condemn, attack, exclude and show disrespect. To do so, I believe, is contrary to what christians believe and teach such as love, patience, inclusiveness, etc. How do we reconcile the truth of Peter’s words to our relationship with those of other religions. It’s hard to imagine God wants us to stand there and tell non-believers “accept this or you are going to hell”. Can people who have their own beliefs (Jew, Muslim, Buddhist) be saved by displaying christian traits of a sincere, loving, compassionate, merciful, generous and truthful soul and heart similar to what Jesus teaches? How does one explain the bold statements in today’s 1st reading without ostracizing or condemning them? Do we just shake our heads in sadness and stand firm by the words of Peter without compassion? I recall Paul teaching in Romans something to the effect that even those who did not know the law but lived as if they knew the law were more righteous than those who knew the law but did not follow the law. Could one suppose that those who have not acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God but live their lives as if they did accept Jesus as the Son of God, aren’t they just as righteous as Christians and deserving salvation without outwardly professing Jesus as their savior?

  4. Shirley Joslin-Fries

    Please pray for my son Robert and my daughter Annie………Thank you
    and God Bless one and all…………………….


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