Fourth Sunday of EasterC
Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Fourth Sunday of EasterC

Fourth Sunday of EasterC

Readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30.

1/ First Reading: NAB Acts 13:14 They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered (into) the synagogue and took their seats. 43 After the congregation had dispersed, 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. 44 On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. 46 Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 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.'" 48 The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, 49 and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. 50 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, and expelled them from their territory. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 The disciples were filled with joy and the holy Spirit.

2/ Second Reading: NAB Revelation 7:9 After this I 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. 14 He 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. 15 "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. 16 They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. 17 For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

3/ Gospel: NAB John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. 30 The Father and I are one."


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


I. THEME: Christ is the Good Shepherd.

 

            God creates people equally; but many people think they are better than others due to some priviledges they possess such as: wealth, fame, power, health and beauty. Many, though are only hirelings, used the name of “shepherd” to rob the sheep’s wool or their meat without concerning for the sheep.

            Today readings want to highlight the important role of Christ: He is the Good Shepherd, sent by God to gather and to care for God’s sheep. He shall bring home the lost sheep, bind the injured one, feed the skinny, and lead them to fertile pastures and clear springs; especially give them the eternal life. In the first reading, the Jews were jealous with Paul and Barnabas because these two men made their sheep to leave them and to follow them; so they made a connection with rich women and noble men to expel them from their city. In the second reading, those who faithfully followed Christ to cleanse their robes and to and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, shall never be hungry nor thirsty nor suffered because the Lamb, the Good Shepherd, shall always take care and console them. In the Gospel, Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd. Whoever goes through him to enter the fold is the true shepherd, and all the sheep who follow him shall no longer be hungry, thirsty or suffered because he shall care, protect and give them the eternal life.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Jews were jealous and opposed Paul’s words.

1.1/ The signs of the true shepherds: There are some indications that help us to differentiate the true from the wrong shepherd.

            (1) The true one brings the sheep back to God by preaching the truth: The former Asia Minor is bigger than the modern Turkey and was the place of Paul and Barnabas’ mission. This is an important place because it connects between Asian and European continents. Paul and Barnabas knew that people are looking for the truth so they come to Jewish synagogues every Sabbath to preach the Gospel about Christ for people to believe in him. On the first week when Paul and Barnabas reached Antioch in Pisidia, they waited for the congregation was dispersed to make contact with some of them. They invited Paul and Barnabas to come back next week to preach the Gospel for the congregation. When the next week came, they invited their families and friends to hear their preaching. The author of Acts reported, “On the following Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” After only two weeks at Antioch, Paul and Barnabas made many Jews and Gentiles there to believe in Christ.

            (2) The true one shows the sheep the way to God: The true shepherd doesn’t lead the sheep to himself , but always shows them the way to God. According to the passage, for people who believed in God, Paul and Barnabas “urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.” To the Gentiles, they showed them the ultimate end of a human life is the eternal and happy life with God. Many of Gentiles recognized and believed what they said and God’s word spreaded throughout that area.

            (3) The true one shall not be discouraged when he was persecuted: Jesus forewarned his disciples, “If they persecuted me, they shall also persecute you;” and, “If they persecute you in this city, let come to other city.” When Paul and Barnabas were persecuted by the Jews and the city officers there, they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

1.2/ The signs of the false shepherd:

            (1) He is jealous when facing the truth: The prophet Ezekiel well described about this kind of shepherd as follow, “My sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep” (Eze 34:8b). The shepherds of Antioch were jealous with Paul and Barnabas because many their Jews and Gentiles believed in what they preached about Christ. They didn’t worry about their sheep are affected by wrong teachings, but were angry about their sheep following Paul and Barnabas and they shall lose material gains from the sheep. This is also the reason why the Sandherin condemned and killed Jesus.

            (2) He finds all possible ways to destroy the truth: The author reported that when seeing such a crowd came to listen to Paul and Barnabas, the Jews are jealous, they opposed what Paul said and vilified him. Instead of arguing with them to find out the truth, they “incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.”

2/ Reading II: The Lamb shall shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water.

2.1/ The faithful must clean their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb: In this passage, the author of Revelation described that the faithful shall come to God after their suffering life on earth to enjoy an eternal and happy life with God. We need to understand the meanings of some symbols:

            - Throne: is the symbol of the Father’spresence.

            - The Lamb: is Christ. He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29).

            - White robes: are the symbols of purity and victory.

            - Palm branches: are also the symbols of victory.

            These faithful are those who passed through all sufferings on earth and are still loyal to Christ; therefore, they are deserved to lead by Christ to God’s throne in order to ask the Father to grant them the eternal life.

2.2/ The final rewards for the faithful ones:

            - To stay forever with God and the Lamd: The purpose of our life is to inherit the beatific vision, to see God as He is and to worship Him forever. The faithful who are victorious, shall possess this beatific vision, as the author of Revelation described, “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.”

            - Not to be hungry or thirsty both in soul and in body.

            - Not to be in pain: The faithful shall not suffer any suffering both in soul and in body. The resurrected body is free of pain and has no limitation.

            - God shall wipe out any tear: The faithful shall never cry because of separation from their relatives, they shall live with each other forever.

 

3/ Gospel: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

3.1/ The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep: is the two-dimensions relationship.

            (1) The shepherd must know his sheep: The verb “to know” in Hebrews has a deeper meaning than in Greek. In Hebrew, to know is to let one’s life be affected by the other; for example, to know God is to walk in His way. In Greek, to know is purely intellectual. The shepherd needs to know the state of both the soul and the body of every sheep before he can shepherd and help them. The prophet Ezekiel’s prophesy about the Good Shepherd’s tasks helps us to understand Christ’s tasks as the shepherd, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice” (Eze 34:16). If the shepherd doesn’t know the state of his sheep, how can he guide and help them?

            (2) The sheep must hear the shepherd’s voice: Shepherding the sheep in Palestine is a difficult task, besiding the task of looking for green pastures and clear springs, the shepherd must also protect his sheep from falling to the deep, wolves and thieves. The shepherd must go first to recognize dangers before he guides his sheep to advance. In order to be safe, the sheep must absolutely obey and do what the sheep commands; if not, the sheep shall easily fall into the deep or the robbers’ hands.

            Similarly in the spiritual aspect, the young sheep don’t know dangers which threaten their souls. The shepherd must guide his sheep with Christ’s truth, nourish them by sacraments to help them strong, be awake to recognize all dangers and be wise to help them to overcome. In return, the sheep must obey and follow the shepherd’s guidance; if not, they shall fall into the enemies’ trap even though the shepherd did all possible ways to safeguard his sheep.

            Christ declared: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.” This is the firm guarantee for all the sheep who believe and obey his instructions, the Good Shepherd. Christ guides his sheep not only by outside cares but also by internal guidances so they can recognize dangers to avoid; at the same time, he also gives the necessary strength for his sheep to overcome any danger.

3.2/ The relationship between the Father and the sheep: Jesus continued to reveal for people, “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.”

            This is an important revelation for people. On the theological aspect, this saying reveals Christ’s divine nature: He is God and has the same authority as the Father. On the pastoral aspect, this declaration shows us the unity between the Father and the Son in protecting people. The faithful are the common property of both the Father and the Son: The Father gives the faithful to the Son, and the Son does all he can to protect the faithful as his flock. If the enemy can’t take the faithful from Christ’s protection, all the more they can’t take them out of the Trinity’s protection because wherever Christ is, there are also the Father and the Holy Spirit.

            Jesus also revealed this protection in chapter 6: “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:39-40).

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Christ is absolutely the only Good Shepherd. Priests and our parents are only God’s shepherds.

            - The true shepherd is the one who leads his sheep to God, not to himself or for his own benefits.

            - The sheep’s duties are to listen and to follow the Good Shepherd’s voice so that they might never fall into the traps of false shepherds and robbers.

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