Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 20:28-38)

At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus:
"Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock
of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,
in which you tend the Church of God
that he acquired with his own Blood.
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you,
and they will not spare the flock.
And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth
to draw the disciples away after them.
So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,
I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.
I have never wanted anyone's silver or gold or clothing.
You know well that these very hands
have served my needs and my companions.
In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak,
and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive.?"

When he had finished speaking
he knelt down and prayed with them all.
They were all weeping loudly
as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,
for they were deeply distressed that he had said
that they would never see his face again.
Then they escorted him to the ship.

Gospel (Jn 17:11b-19)

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:
"Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth."


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

 

I. THEME: The shepherd’s concerns for his flock

             

            In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus made a difference between a good shepherd and a hireling. Today readings go further when they talked about the good shepherd’s concerns for his flock when he must leave them. The good shepherd not only cared for, educated and protected his sheep when he is still alive, but also find a good substitute to take care of the flock when he knows he shall no longer be with them. This is an exceptional sign of a good shepherd.

            In the first reading, St. Paul handed his flock into the elders’ hands at Ephesus. He wanted them to joyfully and freely care for the flock and to protect them from savage wolves of the devil and the world. In the Gospel, Jesus prayed for his disciples and entrusted them under the Father’s protection. He prayed the Father to sanctify his disciples in the truth and protected them from the world and the devil.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: St. Paul’s last words for the elders at Ephesus before his departure to Jerusalem.

1.1/ They must realize their important and meaningful duty: St. Paul reminded them that they must protect the priceless gift which is their faith and the people’s faith: “Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood.” To protect the faith, Paul emphasized two important things:

            (1) They must expel all perversion: Paul knew the importance of the truth and dangers of all perversion from his pastoral experience. He forewarned the leaders of the community these dangers: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them.” The wolves aren’t necessary from outside the community, but can be in their midst. St. John called them the “antichrists” who try to mislead the faithful with their new doctrine. The faithful are still weak and innocent, they don’t know all the truth. Therefore, the shepherds’ duty is to unceasingly teach them the truth so they can recognize the truth from all perversion.

            (2) They must watch out and encourage all of their faithful: The sheep don’t always follow their shepherd’s voice: some get lost due to their curiosity of new things; some purposely oppose the shepherd, these sheep need to be punished. The shepherd can’t discard any sheep, he must pay attention to every sheep. Paul gave the elders his pastoral experience: “So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.”

1.2/ Other importances:

            (1) The power of God’s words: Paul recognized the necessary of understanding the truth; he showed them the treasury of the Scripture: “And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.” Wise leadeship must be based on God’s words and built on their faith in God.

            (2) The shepherd’s reward isn’t based on material gains: Unlike worldly leaders whose concerns are position, power and material gains, the leaders of the faith community must freely sacrifice and make a living by his works. Paul gave them his own example, “I have never wanted anyone's silver or gold or clothing.You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions.” This is an ideal for leaders, but Jesus taught his disciples, “Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another” (Lk 10:7; Mk 10:10). Moreover, the spreading and the nourishment of faith are more important than earning a living.

            (3) Take care of the unfortunate: Paul advised them, “In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” In the flock, the strength and the ability of each sheep are different; the shepherd must pay more attention to the weak and the sick sheep.

            “When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.”

2/ Gospel: "Father! sanctify them in the truth. Your word is the truth."

           

2.1/ Jesus knew of dangers for his disciples when they live in the world: Jesus knew that it is the time for him to leave this world, so he loudly prayed for his disciples: “Now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.” The time when Jesus left this world is also the time that his apostles must confront worldly powers by themselves. Jesus knew all serious results as he warned them, “they killed the shepherd and the flock shall be scattered.” Looking back at his mission, Jesus proudly said to his Father: “When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.”

            The world shall hate and persecute the apostles as they are going to hate and to persecute Jesus. The reason for these is because both Jesus and his apostles don’t belong to the world. Jesus wanted them to clearly know this so that they shall not be surprise when those happen.

2.2/ Jesus prayed for his disciples: Knowing all these dangers shall happen to his apostles, Jesus asked the Father to give them these important favors:

            (1) He prayed the Father to protect his disciples from the devil: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” Jesus didn’t ask the Father to take his apostles out of the world but that to keep them from the evil one. They must stay in the world to continue Jesus’ mission.

             (2) He prayed that the Father sanctifies his disciples in truth: Like St. Paul, Jesus knew the danger of perversion, so he prayed: "Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth." The truth is the Scripture and what Jesus has just taught them. He knew that a wrong act begins with a wrong understanding; therefore, understanding the truth is necessary for Jesus’ disciples.

            Both these petitions are granted by the Father through His sending of the Holy Spirit, who is the truth, he shall help them to recognize the truth and lead them to understand all the truth. He is also the one who protects and strengthens them to be Christ’s witnesses.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - All of us are called to be the good shepherds either for some children as parents or for many people as priests or bishops. We must care for our people, not only when we live with them but also when we are no longer with them.

            - The good shepherd must build his life on faith and God’s words. We must find all possible ways to make our people to have a firm faith and to deeply understand God’s words.

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