Sunday Gospel and Readings Commentary
4th Sunday of Easter (22 April 2018)
Lectionary Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118:1,8-9,21-23,26,29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18
Theme: What is our relationship with Jesus and with the Christian and other communities?
In the New Testament, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd. In the epistles the notion of good shepherding is extended to those who would lead in the church. The idea of shepherding, especially the idea of God acting as the Shepherd of His people, is a motif found throughout the Bible. Summarizing his life on his deathbed, Jacob declared that God had been his “shepherd all of his life to this day” (Gen. 48.24). In Rev. 7:17, when the saints who come out of the tribulation are brought before God, John brings together two of the most striking images of the scripture by stating, "for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.”
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (Jn.10.11-18)
The sheep in the fold has intimate relationship with the shepherd. But there are too many sheep outside the fold, marginalized and oppressed. The true shepherd loves them, ready even to die for them. They, too, must be brought in, no matter the cost. They, too, must feel secure and loved. He offers them abundant life (Ps. 23).
Are we aware of the great privilege that we are children of God (1Jn. 3.1-2)? This is our most radical and satisfying identity - in this world of wealth and vainglory.
Ezekiel 34:15,16 speaks of self-indulgent leaders who took advantage of the sheep. In contrast, Christ is giving up his life totally and willingly, as the Father wants him to, for the sheep. His is a servant leadership, a model for each one of us. We are invited to follow Jesus by our daily loving service of others. What we are to others is what we are to God. Loving God means loving others, and vice versa.
Ps. 118 is a psalm of thanksgiving for the love that we have received from God. In Christ we have found our redemption, as the words in v.22 say, ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone’. Acts 4:8-12, is an invitation to pray and depend on Christ who is the savior of the world and each one’s personal savior. Sin is having more attachment to anything other than God. The sum and substance of the Gospel is that we are loved by God as we are. We have the choice to respond to this awareness during the Easter season as we celebrate the resurrection, that is our own HOPE of continuing life in another form together with Christ.
For Reflection and Discussion:  Are we aware that we are children of God? Do we respond to situations as beloved children of God with love and dignity?  Are we grateful and secure in our faith by being in Jesus, our shepherd, who has laid down his life for us in order to raise us fully to divine life? Discuss:  How is our relationship with God and with our Christian Community and others? Bibliography: (1) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc (2) Sermon by Rev. Adrian Dieleman (3) New Loyola Press; www.loyolapress.com.
This week’s Sunday Gospel Commentary was prepared by
Dr. Joan Chunkapura, Ph.D., MMS, TRADA, Kerala, India. Bat Kol alumna, 2006.
[Copyright © 2018]
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.
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