30 April 2023 – 4th Sunday of Easter, (A)

30 April 2023 – 4th Sunday of Easter, (A)

1st Reading: Acts 2:14, 36-41

Paul and Barnabas preach the Gospel first to the Jews, then to pagans, who receive it with joy

Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. . . Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptised, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Responsorial: Psalm 22: 1-6

R./: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit. (R./)

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort. (R./)

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing. (R./)

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Peter 2:20-25

In praise of the early martyrs, who came triumphantly through times of great persecution trusting in Christ, the Good Shepherd

If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Gospel: John 10:1-10

Christ is the true Shepherd, each one personally; and no one can take away his sheep

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.


The Good Shepherd

Jesus often illustrated his teaching by referring to shepherds and sheep. He sees himself as the Good Shepherd foretold by the prophets. Today’s gospel considers the relationship between the Good Shepherd and the sheep. The imagery is old. The message is topical. It is relevant to us. By faith we accept Jesus, Our relationship is a deeply personal one. The bond of love uniting us is based on the love that unites the Father and Jesus. Our new existence is founded on God’s unbreakable love and faithfulness.

In order to enter eternal life we must listen to Jesus and obey him. The alternative opening prayer puts this in practical terms. We have to tune our minds to the sound of his voice. Self-centredness can make us deaf to the voice of Jesus. Easy options can draw us into easier paths than the one he has traced. Pressure to abandon Christian principles is inevitable. But God is faithful and will not let us be tempted beyond our strength. No one can drag us away from him, The Father has entrusted us to his Son. The same God who kept faith with Jesus by raising him from the dead will also raise us by his power.

Paul and Barnabas ‘spoke out boldly’, and made an impact. A courageous proclamation of the gospel to our contemporaries can be as fruitful now as it was in apostolic times. All the baptized, particularly those who are confirmed, are bound to spread the faith. Laity as well as priests and religious are in the service of the Risen Lord. Our faith urges us to take personal part in the work of evangelisation. Are we doing so? How many evils persist in our society just because good people say nothing and do nothing? A breviary hymn of Eastertide (no.25) spells out what is expected of us by the Risen Lord: Now he bids us tell abroad/How the lost may be restored/How the penitent forgiven/ How we too may enter heaven.

“Good Shepherd Sunday” is a good occasion for us to think and pray about how the catholic church will fare for priests in the future. In Ireland right now it appears that the average age of ordained priests is about sixty five, a statistic that demands significant change in how to recruit priests for the future, and what is to be expected of them. Padraig McCarthy made this point thus, “there is no such thing as a priestless parish. There may not be an ordained priest there, but the parish is a priestly people. How will this priesthood of the baptised take flesh in the coming decades? What factors which had value in the past are now hindering the mission of the church? What new model of ministerial priesthood is needed?”

Here are three questions worth pondering by us all, bishops, priests and laity:

1) Who will be the true shepherds in the coming years?

2) How will those shepherds carry out the mission to those outside the fold?

3) What needs to change so that each community can celebrate the Eucharistic every Sunday?


  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:

    If not Jesus, then who else?


    Jesus says in John 10:14, “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”.

    Can we understand the deep meaning of His love? Our Lord Jesus explains the strong bonding between Him and us by quoting the strong bonding between Him and the Father. This strong love made Him come from His beautiful Heaven to earth, stay with us, live a very hard life without any comfort, not even a house, get crucified and die on the cross. All that was given to Him at the end was only a cross, crown of thorns and three nails to pierce Him. He took all sufferings on Him because He loves us. Can we think of anyone who can love like Him?

    Our Lord Jesus says that He knows His sheep and His sheep know him. Yes our Lord knows all our sins, still He does love us. He said that He came to search for us only. The other part is we know how good our Lord Jesus is. Yes we know how good our Lord is, do we trust Him?

    Psalm 23:2, “He makes us lie down in green pastures”. God actually creates us time for recreation. It may not be the one that the world thinks it is recreation like going to pubs. It is the one in which our hearts will get truly refreshed like – a warm smile from an unknown stranger, a kiss from our child – something that’s good. A person testified: “Once when I was not feeling well, I had to walk for some distance in the hot sun, in my path there was a tree. When I walked under the tree, there was a cool breeze cooling my pain, my mind and my body. Suddenly, my suffering reduced. I could hear the silent voice telling me, “Sit here under the shade of the tree”. I sat there and felt refreshed and relaxed. It is many months from now but still I joyfully cherish those refreshing moments. I knew that it was my green pasture which my Good Shepherd had led me to. When I share this incident with others, they do not understand it. But I know it was my Jesus’s planned refreshment for me. Whenever I think of it, my heart overflows with gratitude for my Good Shepherd.”

    Are we able to simply relax and enjoy the green pastures our Lord is leading us to? I have observed that many people are not able to enjoy the current green pastures by recalling the sad stories of their past. They sit for a coffee break and recall their sad moments unnecessarily. Ultimately, they are more tired after the coffee break than before. Now they will need one more coffee break. Self pity is an important factor that makes our time in green pastures also sad. Another factor is fear of the future. Fear of the future makes us worry about what we do not have.

    The Easter period is actually a green pasture in the life of our Lord Jesus. After resurrection, did He keep worrying about the terrible sufferings He had undergone and merge Himself in self pity? The ‘Last Supper’ is a good example for facing the future without the fear of the future. Can anyone be happy when He knows that He is going to undergo terrible suffering and die the next day? Yet, in the ‘Last Supper’ He calmly instituted the priesthood.

    “If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.” This verse says that God does not promise that we will never walk through the valley of sorrow. But it says that we should not fear even if we are walking through the valley of sorrow, just because our Lord Jesus is there to give us comfort. When evil people attack us, He will save us. If we are steadfast walking according to God’s will, we will have a sure victory. We need not get disappointed with God, when things don’t go as per our plans. If things are going out of our control, they are still in God’s control. His way of handling is much better than our handling. All He will require from us is trust.

    When we are frightened, we are not trusting that God is working on our problems.

    We need to keep thinking trusting thoughts. It is a continuous journey. The Bible says, “Place the scriptures in all your walls so that you will be reminded of them”. When we keep the Blessed verses in our house, we will keep meditating on them unconsciously. We will also be reminded of God’s promises and will be meditating on them without any effort from our part.

    We cannot keep saying “I trust in you, Jesus” and simultaneously keep trying to figure out how we are going to handle our problems which are going beyond our control. Immediately we should acknowledge that we cannot handle the problem and surrender it all to Jesus. You will find our Lord Jesus quickly solving the problems.

    In the Old Testament, when King David was facing defeat, he enquired of the Lord why all this was happening. Then the Lord showed him the reason (It was because of some acts of King Saul). Once King David did the penance required, God removed the obstacles and gave him the victory. Sometimes we block our own victory unknowingly. When we pray to Jesus, He will show us the reason why. He will also show us things to be done and also help us to do them. I had faced certain situations in my life, where, when I prayed for certain things God showed me the things I needed to change that were blocking my blessing. When I made those changes, things got sorted out surprisingly. I think this is probably what the Psalmist calls “The Lord’s rod”!!

    Experience with our Jesus gives us the ability to trust Him during tribulations. Only by experiencing God’s saving power and remembering the instances He has saved us, can make us overcome the worrying part. Trials are good opportunities for us to increase our trust in God. Once there was a family who testified, “Nowadays if any new trials come, we are thinking Jesus will chase away this one also. Because we have experienced His unfailing love in the many trials we had gone through, we know whatever may be the problem, again Jesus will come and make us get through it successfully.”

    We need to consciously make an effort to overcome the worrying nature. If we do not make this effort then we cannot do it. We will never be able to enjoy the green pastures that our Lord Jesus takes us through. Whichever green pasture our Lord Jesus gives we will be worrying looking at why my pasture is not as green as others. Or we get blinded with fear of the future or self pity and do not consider that our pasture is a pasture at all. That is why we find people who have less are much happier and satisfied than people who have more. Writing this Homily is one of my green pastures. I am very happy and grateful for the opportunity.

    Can you recognise your green pastures?

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