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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 11:1-18)

The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
'You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them."
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,
"I was at prayer in the city of Joppa
when in a trance I had a vision,
something resembling a large sheet coming down,
lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me.
Looking intently into it,
I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth,
the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
I also heard a voice say to me, 'Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.'
But I said, 'Certainly not, sir,
because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
But a second time a voice from heaven answered,
'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.'
This happened three times,
and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea.
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man's house.
He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying,
'Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,
who will speak words to you
by which you and all your household will be saved.'
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
as it had upon us at the beginning,
and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said,
'John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?"
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
"God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too."

Gospel (Jn 10:1-10)

Jesus said:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers."
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: People must follow God’s plan of salvation.

            There are two main periods in God’s plan of salvation. In the first period, God chose the Israelites to prepare for the Messiah’s coming. After that is the second period, when the Messiah came, God’s plan of salvation must be extended to all people. Many prophets foretold the second period; but many Jews stopped at the first period. They believed that they are only God’s chosen people and deserved to be saved; the Gentiles aren’t God’s people and predestined to be punished and lost.

            Today readings center on God’s love and His plan of salvation for all people. In the first reading, the author of the Acts described the conflict between Peter and other disciples about the contact and the reception of the Gentiles to the Church. Peter used his vision of the net that came from heaven and his pastoral experience to convince them that in God’s plan of salvation, both the Jews and the Gentiles can receive the Holy Spirit and the grace of repentance to inherit the eternal life. People can’t oppose God’s plan of salvation. In the Gospel, Jesus declared that he is both the gate and the good shepherd. He came to gather all the sheep into one flock and to let them fully live.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God’s salvation is bestowed on all people.

1.1/ The conflict happened between Peter and the Jews: According to Jewish tradition, they separate themselves from other nations and never enter a Gentiles’ house. Some of the Jews criticized Peter because he contacted with Gentiles and entered their house to eat and drink with them. These acts defiled Peter. Then Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying, "I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. I also heard a voice say to me, 'Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.' But I said, 'Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time a voice from heaven answered, 'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.' This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.”

            This vision demanded Peter to review his Jewish tradition. God creates all things good and pure; this includes all Gentiles. He couldn’t keep a disrespect for them by considering them as uncircumcised, undefiled or slaves.

1.2/ God also grants the grace of repentance to the Gentiles for their salvation.

            (1) The Good News must be proclaimed to the Gentiles: Peter continued: "Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, 'Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.'”

            The house which Peter entered is Cornelius’ house. He was a Roman centurion; though a Gentile, but kindly treated the Jews. Peter used that occasion to preach Christ’s Good News to all members of Cornelius’ household. One can clearly see God’s acting in this event: He sent his messenger to announce to Cornelius, at the same time He let the Holy Spirit act on Peter so that he agreed to go with Cornelius’ three messengers.

            (2) No one can oppose God’s plan of salvation: Peter continued to recount: “As I began to speak, the holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning,and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.' If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” This event reminded Peter of the Pentecost and helped him to recognize that God bestows His Spirit on all people, not only the Jews. After that, Peter baptized all members of Cornelius’ household. When other disciples heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, "God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too."

2/ Gospel: I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

2.1/ Jesus is the gate to the sheepfold: In most of Jewish villages, they have a common place to contain all of their sheep at night. This place has only one entrance and only the gatekeeper has the key. He knows all shepherds and only opens the door for them. However, there are also shepherds who don’t want to enter villages, but to keep their sheep in the field as in Bethlehem. In this situation, a shepherd shall look for a cave which has only one entrance. At night, he shall let his sheep into a cave and sleep right at the entrance. In today passage, Jesus mentioned both cases.

            (1) In the case of the sheepfold: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

            (2) In the case of the cave: "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.All who came (before me) are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

2.2/ The relationship between the shepherd and his sheep: A shepherd knows all of his sheep and each sheep’s habit. Many shepherds named them according to their physical appearance or habit. The sheep can recognize its shepherd by smell, voice or the noise of the bell or the flute of the shepherd. This is the reason why Jesus said, “When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

            Jesus also made a difference between a shepherd and a thief: “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” A shepherd must be responsible before the owner about his sheep. If a sheep is eaten by a wolf, he must have an evidence to show to the owner. He must care for his sheep by guiding them to green pasture and clear source of water. He must protect his sheep from all dangers of wolves, lions, thives and robbers. Through this lovely image of the shepherd and the sheep, Jesus wanted to compare himself as the Good Shepherd and the believers as the sheep. He came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - All people can have salvation in God’s plan, and the Good News must be proclaimed to all nations. To inherit salvation, we need to listen and to believe in Christ, the Good Shepherd whom God sends to us.

            - All of us are allowed to participate in Christ’s mission of shepherding his flock. As a good shepherd must go through the gate which is Christ, we must also use Christ’s name to teach, to heal, and to care for our sheep. 

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