4th Sunday of Easter – Year A

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Acts 2:14, 36-41

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.

36 Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah,[a] this Jesus whom you crucified.”

This is not a condemnation of the Jews – Peter has already stated in his address (Acts 2: 23) “This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him”. They were instruments of God’s will and decree; a part of His plan.

The First Converts

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers,[b] what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you 

Baptism results in the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit. Luke presents baptism in Acts as the expected response to the apostolic preaching about Jesus and associates it with the conferring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 10:44-48; 11:16).

in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This does not necessarily mean that this was the form of words which the Apostles used in the baptismal liturgy, rather than the Trinitarian form prescribed by Jesus in Matthew 28:19. The expression “baptized in the name of Christ” means becoming a member of Christ, becoming a Christian.

39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

At the sin of the golden calf, when the priesthood of the family was abolished in favor of the Levitical priesthood, three thousand were slain (Exodus 32:28) – now the Levitical priesthood is abolished and the priesthood of the family of God is instituted and three thousand are added to that family.

Psalm 23:1-6

The Divine Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;[a]
    he restores my soul.[b]
He leads me in right paths[c]
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[d]
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely[e] goodness and mercy[f] shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.[g]

1 Peter 2:20-25

Today’s reading comes from the section of Peter’s letter concerning the behavior of Christian slaves. Neither Peter nor Paul, even though they were apostles in the just emerging Christian Church, tried to put an end to the institution of slavery. They aimed instead at giving slavery a Christian meaning and making it a part of one’s spiritual being. Our reading today is commonly understood to be part of a primitive Christian hymn based on Isaiah 53:4-12.

20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

“Be sure to note carefully the extent to which Peter beholds glory even in the state of slavery, by saying that those who do well and are blameless but who are beaten by cruel and dishonest masters, are following in the footsteps of Christ, who suffered unjustly on our behalf. That is something to rejoice about!” [Saint Bede the Venerable (ca. A.D. 416), On 1 Peter]

22 “He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

This begins the hymn referred to in the introduction (read Isaiah 53:4-12).

23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,[a]

“Christ was nailed to the cross, paying the penalty, not for His own sins but paying the debt of our nature. For our nature was in debt after transgressing the laws of its maker. And since it was in debt and unable to pay, the Creator Himself in His wisdom devised a way of paying the debt. By taking a human body as capital, He invested it wisely and justly in paying the debt and thereby freeing human nature.” [Theodoret of Cyr (ca. A.D. 430), On Divine Providence, 10,26]

so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds[b] you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

 The familiar shepherd and flock figures express the care, vigilance, and love of God for His people in the Old Testament [Psalm 23 (our Responsorial Psalm); Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 23:4-5; Ezekiel 34:11-16] and of Jesus for all humanity in the New Testament [Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:4-7; John 10:1-16 (our gospel reading); Hebrews 13:20].
John 10:1-10

Today’s reading takes place about four months before Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. This discourse appears immediately after Jesus’ healing of the man blind from birth (4th Sunday in Lent, Cycle A). Recall that at the end of that story, Jesus was addressing the Pharisees who didn’t think they were blind – He still addresses the Pharisees.

Jesus the Good Shepherd

10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life,

John 1:4 says “through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race”.

and have it abundantly.

John 1:16 says “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace”.

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