Gospel Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Easter

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."


Jn 10:11-18

Jesus said:
"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."


Our Gospel today gives us the beloved image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the One who knows His sheep, cares for them, and promises to gather the lost into His fold. Hence, this Fourth Sunday of Easter is called “Good Shepherd Sunday.”

In the early life of the Church, Saint Peter, the Apostles, and their successors took up the important work of teaching, healing, and evangelizing in the name of the Good Shepherd. In the First Reading, we hear Saint Peter courageously proclaim to the elders that it is Jesus Christ the Nazorean at work through them. This work continues in the Church today, especially through her Priests.

During a Priestly Ordination, the man to be ordained lays prostrate before the Altar as a sign of humility and surrender to God. It symbolizes his readiness to ‘lay down his life’ for the flock in imitation of Christ. From that sacred day, the Priest will be called to echo the voice of the Good Shepherd by preaching in His Name, celebrating the Sacraments that save and heal, and leading souls into the fold of the Church. This is a truly noble task.

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, please pray for our Priests and for an increase in Vocations to the Priesthood. We need holy, humble men to carry out this work today. I ask you, in a special way, to pray for the six men called to the Sacrament of Holy Orders this year in the Diocese of Allentown: one to the Diaconate and five to the Priesthood. May more young men follow in their footsteps and heed the voice of the Good Shepherd calling them to lay down their lives in imitation of Him.

Please be assured of my prayers for you before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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