Fourth Sunday of Easter - 22nd April, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

 
Acts 4:8-12; John 10:11-18

 

Today’s readings from Acts and from St John both give us very powerful models, one of Christian discipleship and the other of true shepherding. In Acts, one has to ask, is this the same Peter who denied Jesus three times when challenged by a slip of a girl in the courtyard of the high priest? And when did this change come about? Not after Jesus’ death when Peter was with others behind locked doors; not even after His resurrection, when he was among the other disciples trying to catch fish. There, the assurance Jesus gave him of his forgiveness must have had a conditioning effect, but the decisive change is mentioned in the first line of today’s reading from Acts:

                  “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said…”

and there follows Peter’s testimony to the rulers of the people and elders, so unbelievably courageous and challenging. He is shouting “Come and get me!”

 

We see here the link between the two readings: Peter is exercising his new leadership role, in imitation of Jesus, the good shepherd, “who lays down his life for his sheep”.

Whereas Pater had been like the hired man who “abandons his sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming”, in his new role, he is ready to lay down his life for his sheep, and not just for the disciples known to him, but “other sheep … that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.

What lessons can we take to ourselves from these two readings?

  • a reverence for and reliance on the Holy Spirit; greater awareness when tracing the Sign of the Cross and praying every doxology
  • courage in answering the call to bring healing and comfort to others in the name of Jesus
  • taking on the role of leadership in what we say and how we say it
  • Being generous with our time and attracting others to follow Jesus

Sr Helen Ryan OP