HOME Homily Archives - Year B Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B
Homily. Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118; 1John 3:12; John 10:11-18.

White Stole and Gospel
Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118; 1John 3:12; John 10:11-18

The extraordinary love of God for us has taken in Jesus the form of the good shepherd who “laid down his life for his sheep” (Gospel). He is the one and only path to salvation for crippled humanity(Second Reading and Psalm): a salvation that is so profound it is not limited to an external alteration or a change in legal status, but actually makes us be children of God: something to marvel at, even if we don’t yet know the half of the story (Second Reading).

Calvary it seemed Jesus was a complete failure. But the resurrection has revealed that instead, by that very ‘failure’, he has become the center of the human story, the corner stone holding together the dignity of the human person and all our hope for the future.

In the Christian that dignity is raised to an unheard of level: we actually are God’s sons and daughters. It is not a figurative term, or a purely legal situation, but the expression of our new reality. As God’s creatures we are a reflection of his being; as his children we are God’s own family.

And this, although “what we shall later be has not yet come to light”. That’s the best even inspired words can do to try to get across to us what God has done in us. We just haven’t got language or notions to express it even remotely adequately. It is all because of the unimaginable richness of his love for us. We are creatures: we love things because they are. God is Creator: things are because he loves them. The more extraordinary the ‘thing’, the greater love is at the root of them. And there is nothing greater, if we except the human nature of Jesus himself, than our sharing in the divine life.

Nor is God’s love one that has given us this gift and then forgotten us or abandons us when we abandon him. On the contrary, it has become incarnate in Jesus. He is, indeed, a strange “center” of human existence: not an immobile focus in expectation of human homage, but a shepherd who is permanently in search of every single lost sheep. He knows each one of us, through and through, and by name. And he has not given up even on those who have wandered furthest away. He will lay down his life for any one of us.

Catechesis: The effects of baptism, CCC 1262, especially 1265-66 and 1272-73; also 1213 and 1279. 

We are still in a situation where Christ is rejected by “the world”; this is the way it will always be. Along with him, Christians and the Church are readily discarded as “not part of the solution”, or rather, in certain circles, particularly in Europe and wherever the “culture of death” reigns, as definite obstacles to any “progressive” solution to human problems. But although this certainly brings about difficulties, adversities and suffering for many Christians, the most profound loss is suffered by a world that as a result is at best unaware and unappreciative, and most often inhabilitated to “be called children of God”. And that hides from the Good Shepherd seeking out his lost sheep.

The image of the Good Shepherd was perhaps the favorite early Christian image of our Savior. He is still seeking out the ones who have strayed away, or have never been near him. But he needs feet to go where they are, hands to reach out to them, tongues to speak to them his warm words of invitation and welcome. How many inactive Catholics, or people who attend no church, are there on your street? Imagine if on every street there was just one family that visited their neighbors in a friendly, inviting way on behalf of the Catholic Church, to see how they might be helped –or welcomed home? How many more tired, stray sheep would experience the arms of the Good Shepherd reaching out to lift them up and carry them home. He wants to, but he can’t do it without us.

This is Vocation Sunday. Jesus has always shepherded his people through those to whom, following Peter and his apostles, he has repeated, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). He is still calling young men to the priesthood as shepherds, and young women to consecrated life where they can exercise their “feminine genius” of caring for God’s loved ones. We have to be truly grateful for the ones who listen to his call and are willing, like him, to “lay down their life”, freely. It is, after all, the only life they have. And they give it up, to shepherd his people. I have always admired the fact that there are young Christians around us who are prepared to think, “Well, I do only have one life; but there are others who need that life of mine more than I need it myself”. And they give it. They really are the greatest among us.

Pray that our parish, that your family, will have young men and women of such a quality of love. Don’t just pray: educate your children to love that much. Be always ready to let go of them if they are that special; never stop them looking to see if God has put a heart that big in them. Young people, encourage your friends who might be ready to give the gift of themselves. Look into your own heart, and see if you have that much love there. And if you do, don’t be afraid to ask the Lord, “Are you calling me?”