Please press the hightlighted to listen to the homily or download
Fourth Sunday – Year B – Easter
Readings: Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18.
Reading 1 (Acts 4:8-12):
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said:
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
Reading 2 (1 Jn. 3:1-2):
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Gospel (Jn 10:11-18):
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Christ is the Good Shepherd of all believers.
The Christians, even though they look the same as all other people, have immense and powerful resources that are hidden in them. Some of them don’t even recognize they have them; some don’t know how to use them. When the christians know how to use these powerful resources, they can heal the sick, raise the dead, expel demons, overcome all obstacles in life and reach the ultimate destination which God prepares for them.
Today readings concentrate on these powerful resources which God and Christ prepare for the believers. In the first reading, the author of the Act emphasized how powerful are the holy name of Christ which the christians believe and the immortal seed which they carry in themselves. St. Peter used Christ’s name to heal a paralyzed man, and declared that people must believe in this name to be saved. In the second reading, St. John mentioned about the priviledge of being God’s children and the heritage of eternal life which they shall have in next life. In the Gospel, Jesus clearly declared that he is the Good Shepherd. He comes to sacrifice for his sheep, to gather all sheep under his flock and to protect them from all dangers.
1/ Reading I: The christians carry Christ’s name and the immortal seed with them.
The christians have the most holy and powerful name which no other name in the universe has power like it. The author of the Letter to the Philippians confirmed the importance of this name: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phi 2:10-11).
1.1/ In the name of Christ, Peter healed the paralyzed: The Sandherin interrogated Peter and John: “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Act 4:7). Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders:If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved,then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’”
Not all christians can heal the sick as Peter, St. Martin de Porres, Padre Pio or Father Truong Buu Diep, because their faith aren’t such strong and their lacking of holiness; nevertheless, their faith in Christ can help them to avoid many kinds of sickness and to live in peace with others.
1.2/ Only in Christ’s name, people can be saved: On Calgary, the Sandherin thought that they eliminated Christ and avoided the result which they were worry that people left them to follow Jesus; but Peter reminded them the truth in today passage: “He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
Jesus himself revealed this truth to his disciples: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:40). It is clear that by believing in Christ’s name, the christians shall inherit etrnal life.
2/ Reading II: The believers have the privilege to become God’s children.
2.1/ The believers are God’s children: By believing in Christ and by receiving Baptism, the believers become God’s children as John certified: “To those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (Jn 1:12). The believers are inherited this privilege, “not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God” (Jn 1:13). They become God’s adopted children by putting their faith in Christ. John explained this in today passage: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
The believers aren’t children of the world. In John, the world implies those who don’t believe and oppose God. When the believers believe in Christ, they conquer the world because the world doesn’t believe in him. The believers shall have to pay a price because the world shall hate and persecute them; the reason for this is because they don’t live according to worldly standards. Jesus warned his disciples this before his Passion: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (Jn 15:18-19).
2.2/ The rights of God’s children: St. John abbreviated these rights in a simple verse: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
First, the believers shall be resurrected because they carry in them Christ’s immortal seed. This recalls God’s intention when He creates men according to His image and likeness (Gen 1:26); but sins tarnished these images. Christ came not only to take away sins but also to recover the original image and holiness for people.
Next, the believers are inherited very valuable treasures which God bestows on them through Christ. There are four main treasures:
(1) The whole Scripture about God’s salvation plan. This is the source of wisdom which no book or the combination of all worldly wisdom can be compared with it. The Scripture provides for the believers all solutions for problems happened in life.
(2) The Holy Spirit and his seven gifts: He acts inside the believers to help them to know, to live and to courageously witness for the truth amidst falsity and temptations of the world.
(3) The cross is God’s wisdom and power. It helps the believers to recognize God’s love for them. It also urges them to accept sufferings as Jesus to bring eternal life for them and others.
(4) The Eucharist and other sacraments: The Eucharist nourishes the believers’ spiritual life. It gives them the divine life so that they can overcome all obstacles in life. Other sacraments help them to effectively fulfill their vocation.
3/ Gospel: The faithful are protected by the Good Shepherd.
3.1/ The qualities of the Good Shepherd: In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel likened Israelites as sheep and God as the shepherd (Eze 34). According to the prophet, not all shepherds are good; there were shepherds in Israel who didn’t care for and guide their sheep, but paid attention only to their milk, wool and meat (Eze 34:3). That is the reason why God rebuked them, and He himself wanted to pasture His sheep. In the New Testament, Jesus liken the believers as sheep and he himself as the Good Shepherd. Jesus emphasized three special characters of the Good Shepherd which are different with a hire man.
(1) The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep: “A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” Jesus expressed this character when he accepted death on the cross to redeem all people from their sins.
(2) The good shepherd knows all his sheep and they know him: “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” There exists an intimate relationship between Jesus and us. The believers must try to live this relationship with Christ.
(3) The good shepherd looks for all sheep that belong to him and gathers them in one flock: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
The believers must realize that they have the good shepherd who always watch over, care for and protect them in all moments of their life. They need to listen, to obey and to follow what he instructs so that they can be nourished, happy and free of all dangers.
3.2/ The powers of the Good Shepherd: The believers have the good shepherd who isn’t only good but also powerful. Jesus revealed this power as follows:
(1) The power to lay down: “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.” Out of love, Jesus laid down his life for people. This supreme act is the reason why he is loved the most by the Father.
(2) The power to take it up again: “I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.” The Father gives Jesus the power of resurrection. He resurrected and has power to raise the believers from death.
If we have a good shepherd who loves and sacrifices himself for the sheep, this isn’t enough because when the world kill this good shepherd, the sheep shall be scattered. But we need a good and powerful shepherd who can resurrect himself and save his sheep from death. Jesus is this good and powerful shepherd. He loved us and sacrificed himself for us. He had power to resurrect from death and to recover eternal life for us.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should recognize and use the powerful resources which God has bestowed on us to benefit ourselves, our family and the Church.
– We shouldn’t underestimate powers which are in us. These powers can help us to achieve things that exceed human effort, as the Acts showed us.
– We are God’s children, not of the world. We shouldn’t live according to worldly standards. With the powerful resources given by God, we can overcome all temptations of the devil and the world. Don’t be afraid of any power because we are protected by Christ, the powerful and good shepherd.