for Sunday, April 17, 2016
Part of the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus is to consider Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It is not enough that Jesus rises from the dead. No, this death and resurrection and part of His live that He always gives for us. Just as at Christmas we hear that Christ is born for us, so also today we should hear that Christ dies for us and is raised for us.
The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, shows the early followers of Jesus willing to sacrifice and even suffer for the Lord. These followers feel the need to proclaim the presence of Jesus and His Resurrection. They feel a need to give witness to the power of Jesus at work in their lives. We modern Christian rarely feel that need and urge to give witness. We are a little uneasy about proclaiming that Jesus has risen and we are even more uneasy about giving personal testimony.
The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, is on the same theme as the first reading: those who have offered their lives in witness to Jesus, to the Lamb of God. This reading gives witness to the multitude of martyrs in the early Church. These are women and men of every race, nation and people who were willing to give witness to the Resurrection and who paid for that witness with their lives. This reading also bears witness to the theme of the Good Shepherd when it tells us that the Lamb will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water.
The Gospel of John today also focuses on Jesus as Shepherd but also on Jesus being one with the Father. This is a powerful statement of Jesus. We must not water it down in any way. The Father and the Son are one. We must never take the road that so many take today of beginning to think that Jesus is just a good man, who had a special relationship with God and nothing more. No, with the early followers of Jesus we must proclaim: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God, Jesus is Savior. This witness, even in our modern, accepting age, can bring us to martyrdom.
The promise of the Gospel today is that Jesus is with us and will be with us. We are not speaking about Jesus as an historical figure, who did nice things and spoke nice words! No, we are speaking about Jesus, who is God, who is Savior and who is Lord of all. Jesus promises to be with us and so His promise in the Gospel today is true for us as it was true for His early followers: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.
Let us rejoice as we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord. He is our Lord and draws us to Himself. May we respond!
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: