SR-2019-05-12

SUNDAY MASS READINGS’ REFLECTIONS
4th Sunday of Easter (Cycle C) – May 12, 2019


CHRIST IS RISEN!

EASTER TIME:
Liturgical Color – White (Stands for light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory.)
Purpose –
This is the great 50 days of joyful celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead and ending with His sending forth of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

4th Sunday of Easter Theme: The Lord Is My Sheherd.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Our Good Shepherd, Jesus, gives us all the help we need to persevere in our trials and tribulations.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”


Reading 1 Acts of the Apostles 13:14,43-52     Paul and Barnabas overcome trials to preach the Word of the Lord among the Jews and Gentiles.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 100:1-3,5     A song in praise of God who shepherds us.

Reading 2 – Revelation 7:9,14b-17     John describes his vision of the praises that the holy ones sing to the Lamb of God.

Gospel – John 10:27-30     Jesus describes His care for His sheep.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, LoyolaPress.com, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document.


Reading 1     Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52                  (Preaching the Word of the Lord)

Today’s reading –   In the early chapters of Acts, Peter has center stage. In the later chapters of Acts, Paul’s missionary journeys are highlighted. During these journeys, Paul always tried to reach his own people, the Jews, first. Hence, the reference to him preaching in the Synagogue. Only when his own people rejected him, did he turn to the Gentiles.


Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.

On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord. [i] When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the Word of God be spoken to you first (ie. the Jews), but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the Word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life [ii] came to believe, and the Word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas [iii], and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them [iv], and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first (i.e. the Jews)” – Why did Paul say this? The answer, in the following, is from JewsforJesus.org:
When God in the Hebrew Scriptures refers to us Jews as chosen (i.e. to be first), He’s saying that He selected us to serve a specific purpose and to carry out a particular task. Primarily, God selected our people to bless the world with His revelation of Himself. Through the Jewish people, God gave the world the Scriptures, and then the Messiah of whom the Scriptures speak. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:3-6)
A kingdom of priests? God planned to establish a kingdom of priests so that the rest of the nations might learn who He is and come to worship Him. Who were the priests and what did they do? In the ancient world, they instructed people about God and interceded for people before God. Now, if the entire nation of Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests, then what other people were we supposed to instruct and intercede for? Well, who’s left? The rest of the nations of the earth. At Sinai, we received more than the Law of Moses; we received a mandate, rooted in God’s desire to see his revelation go out to all the families of the earth.
Scripture references: Nehemiah 9:7 says “God . . . chose Abram, and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldeans.” Deuteronomy 14:2 says about the whole Jewish people, “The Lord has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” And Amos 3:2 says, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth.”
So, why did God choose the Hebrews? Please see Footnote #2 about biblical mysteries.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 100:1-3, 5                 (We Are the Sheep of His Flock)

This is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for His goodness to Israel (Old Testament meaning) plus it is a suitable psalm for Paul and Barnabas as they saw the Gentiles open their hearts to the Gospel (New Testament meaning).


R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands
(Both Jews and Gentiles); serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful song.
R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.
Know that the LORD is God; He made us, His we are; His people, the flock He tends.
R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.
The LORD is good: His kindness endures forever, and His faithfulness, to all generations.
R. – We are His people, the sheep of His flock.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Reading 2     Revelation 7:9, 14b-17                       (The Lamb as Shephard)  

Today’s reading – In this reading we have Jesus, the victorious Lamb, surrounded by a huge crowd of people from every nation on earth. They listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow His ways despite difficulties and persecutions. Because of their faithfulness to Jesus, they will be safe forever and share in His divine life.


I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. [v]

Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


“For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship Him day and night in His temple. The One who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will Shepherd them
[vi] and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 10:27-30                               (The Good Shepherd)

Today’s reading – In today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, speaks of His relationship with His flock and with His Father. Jesus’ flock are those who hear His voice and follow it. Then Jesus makes two bold promises. He will give eternal life to those who are His sheep, and He will not allow anyone to take them away from Him – assuming of course that they continue to listen to His voice (ie. persevere in obedience in both good times and bad). Because Jesus has power over death, He can offer His followers eternal life. Those who heed His voice will never perish, nor will they be snatched away from Him.


Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.
Jesus is referred to as a Shepherd and a Lamb. We are referred to as sheep.
The image of shepherds is that they are kind, loving, patient, strong, and self-sacrificing. They are a good image for Jesus. The shepherd uses a staff with a hook on the end to guide the sheep and pull back the stray. Today Jesus guides his flock through bishops, who are known as pastors, the Latin for shepherds. Bishops carry staffs called crosiers. The shepherd has a rod to fend off wild animals that might harm the flock. Jesus saved us from evil. Jesus restores our souls. Shepherds feed their flocks. Jesus feeds us with the excellent bread of the Eucharist and brings us to living waters: baptism and the Holy Spirit.
In Christianity, the lamb represents Christ as both suffering and triumphant; it is typically a sacrificial animal, and may also symbolize gentleness, innocence, and purity. In addition, the lamb symbolizes sweetness, forgiveness and meekness.
Sheep are really good at just a few things. They are good at drowning, being defenseless, and being utterly dependent upon the shepherd. They do provide wool and meat, but they can’t even take credit for that since their Creator made them that way. Isaiah the Prophet nailed it when he wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Matthew wrote that when Jesus “saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:36), and we’re helpless too…without Jesus as our Good Shepherd. (Christian Crier) And sheep, who can be rather stupid and foolish creatures, are a good symbol for us!

Catechism 754 – “The Church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God Himself foretold that He would be the Shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ Himself, the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave His life for His sheep.

[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
“On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of the Lord.” = There is great magnetism to hear the preaching of the Word of the Lord. Not only Jews, but a great many Gentiles, where also gathered, which exasperated the envious Jews. People will want to listen to something especially when they believe “there is something in it for them”.
[ii] “All who were destined for eternal life” = The true meaning of this phrase is a mystery. Calvinists claim this confirms their belief in predestination. The Haydock Catholic Bible commentary states – We don’t want to get ourselves tied-up in pre-destination theories. It would be better for us to submit our understandings to the obedience of faith, than entangle ourselves in a maze of abstruse errors, far removed from our comprehension. Per St. Augustine – “How much wiser and better is it to confess our ignorance on mysteries, than idly to dispute on mysteries!” However (sorry St. Augustine), I believe that we are all predestined because God created all of us, and those yet to come, in His Image (Genesis 1:27). That means to me, that He created us to be like Him and gave us the opportunity to be with Him forever. That is, if we use our Free Will to be faithful (obedient belief – which includes good works) to Him, we shall have eternal life. See – “Summa Of The Christian Life” by Venerable Louis of Granada, Chapter 13, “The Blessing of Predestination”.  
[iii] “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas” = Recall the ninth Beatitude – “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
[iv] “So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them” = Shaking the dust off one’s feet conveys the same idea as our modern phrase “I wash my hands of it.” Shaking the dust off the feet is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it. (From – GotQuestions.org) Remember when Pilot took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd and said – “I am innocent of this Man’s blood, It is your responsibility!”
[v] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” = The white robes and palm branches symbolize righteousness and victory.
[vi] “For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will Shepherd them” = A paradox – the Lamb is a Shepherd.