Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 25, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvin Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
“‘I am the good shepherd,’ says the Lord; ‘I know my sheep, and mine know me’” (Alleluia refrain). The Fourth Sunday of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is an eloquent expression of God’s love for us. Saint John Paul II wrote: “[…] the allegory of the good shepherd has a strongly paschal character and for this reason the Church proposes it for our reflection during this Easter season.”
Today’s Gospel says: “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Jesus gave his life for us so that we may become God’s children. In today’s second reading, Saint John says: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are” (1 Jn 3:1).
That we are God’s beloved sons and daughters brings us unending joy. We need to seek this joy! We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the grace of the fullness of joy that faith brings to our lives. As Saint Anselm wrote, “For I have found a fullness of joy that is more than full. It is a joy that fills the whole heart, mind, and soul, indeed it fills the whole of a man, and yet joy beyond measure still remains. The whole of that joy cannot enter into those who rejoice, but those who rejoice can enter wholly into that joy.”
If we were aware of who we truly are, we could change the world! We would be like the early Christians. Today’s first reading presents Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, declaring that a crippled man had been miraculously cured in Jesus’ name: “[…] in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed” (Acts 4:10). In Jesus’ name, we can do truly astonishing things! The Lord says: “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these […] and whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (Jn 14:12–13).
In today’s second reading, Saint John says something astounding: “We shall be like him [God], for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:2). We are destined to be like God! Saint Athanasius observed: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” Although we remain creatures, we can truly participate in God’s life through Christ.
To see God as he is exceeds our wildest imagination. As Saint Paul says, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
The cultural reduction of Christianity to doctrine and morals started centuries ago but Christianity is much more. Christianity is life, splendid life, superabundant life! Life eternal!
In today’s first reading, Saint Peter declares that our lives can only be fulfilled in Christ: “There is no salvation through anyone else” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads us through the mystery of the Church to the Father’s house. In Christ and with him, we walk the path that leads to our eternal destiny, to the fullness of life in God’s presence. As Psalm 16 says, “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever” (Ps 16:11).
Today’s responsorial psalm says: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever” (Ps 118:1). Lord Jesus, you are good! We give thanks for your goodness to us! You are our Good Shepherd! May we always find delight in your sweet and gentle presence! May we always rejoice as we lovingly follow you! May you lead us to partake in the fullness of joy in heaven! Amen.