Commentary for 4th Sunday Easter Year B

First Reading: Acts 4:8–12

Last week we heard Peter and John speaking to the people at Solomon’s Portico. Today we hear Peter’s address to the Sanhedrin, after having been put in jail overnight for preaching about the resurrection of the dead in Jesus — a doctrine specifically rejected by the Sadducees.

Connection to the Gospel —> “The Lord Himself installed Peter to pasture His flock. Thus everything effective and appropriate ultimately is accomplished by the “chief Shepherd alone” (1 Peter 5:4), even if through the activity of his assistants.” ~ Balthasar, LW, 190

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,

Recall that in Luke 12:11-12 Jesus says “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Here, that promise is fulfilled.

9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

“The divine power and operation of the Father and of the Son is one and the same; hence it follows that Christ rose by the power of the Father and by his own power” (St Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, 3, 53, 4).

11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’

“St Peter applies the words of Psalm 118:22 to Jesus, conscious no doubt that our Lord had referred to himself as the stone rejected by the builders which had become the cornerstone, the stone which keeps the whole structure together (cf. Mt 21:42 and par.)” ~ Navarre Bible

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

According to the Hebrew root, the name of Jesus means “saviour”. After our Lady, St Joseph is the first person to be told by God that salvation has begun. “Jesus is the proper name of the God-man and signifies ‘Saviour’, a name given him not accidentally, or by the judgment or will of man, but by the counsel and command of God” […]. All other names which prophecy gave to the Son of God—Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (cf. Is 9:6)—are comprised in this one name Jesus; for while they partially signified the salvation which he was to bestow on us, this name included the force and meaning of all human salvation” (St Pius V, Catechism, 1, 3, 5 and 6). ~ Navarre Bible

Response: Psalm 118:22

22The stone that the builders rejected

has become the chief cornerstone.

Psalm: Psalm 118:8–9, 21–23, 26, 28–29

8It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to put confidence in mortals.

9It is better to take refuge in the Lord

than to put confidence in princes.

21I thank you that you have answered me

and have become my salvation.

22The stone that the builders rejected

has become the chief cornerstone.

23This is the Lord’s doing;

it is marvelous in our eyes.

26Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.

We bless you from the house of the Lord.

28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;

you are my God, I will extol you.

29O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1–2

Having taught about repentance and re-ordering of our lives to follow Our Father’s plan, John now teaches what it means to be a part of God’s covenant family. Affirming the present reality of God’s love in making the Christians “children of God” has three consequences: 1) Christians do not belong to the world, which failed to receive Jesus. 2) Christians will lead lives of holiness like Christ. 3) Christians are confident of an even greater salvation in the future.

1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.

The Son of God became a son of man so that the sons of men might become sons of God” ~ St. Athanasius

“For we are children of God. This is the central and most profound fact about our redemption. We are not merely forgiven; we are adopted by God as sons and daughters. There’s a world of difference between those two views of redemption and justification. Think about it in everyday terms: you can forgive your auto mechanic if he overcharges you; but it’s unlikely that, upon forgiving him, you’ll adopt him into your family. Yet that is precisely what God has done. He has forgiven us our sins so that we might find our lasting home in the family we call the Trinity” ~ Scott Hahn, HHQ, 119-120

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

“The world cannot comprehend the relationship between Jesus and his own… And the Church herself cannot completely understand this relationship either. It is so mysterious that it will reveal itself only in eternal life, where the relationship between the God-man and the Church will be embedded in the trinitarian relationship without being absorbed by it.” ~ Balthasar, LW, 191

Gospel: John 10:11–18

11 “I am the good shepherd.

Jesus presents Himself as the fulfillment of one of the favourite Old Testament prophetic literature themes, that of the Good Shepherd (cf. Psalm 23), who faithfully protects God’s flock (cf. Ezekiel 34).

PRIESTHOOD: “Let them remember that their priestly ministry … is—in a special way—‘ordered’ to the great solicitude of the Good Shepherd, solicitude for the salvation of every human being… The solicitude of every good shepherd is that all people ‘may have life and have it to the full’, so that none of them may be lost, but should have eternal life. Let us endeavour to make this solicitude penetrate deeply into our souls; let us strive to live it. May it characterize our personality, and be at the foundation of our priestly identity” (John Paul II, Letter to priests, 8 April 1979).

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

“Here,” says St John Chrysostom, “he is speaking of his passion, making it clear this would take place for the salvation of the world and that he would go to it freely and willingly” (Hom. on St John, 59, 3).

“He did what he said he would do,” St Gregory comments; “he gave his life for his sheep, and he gave his body and blood in the Sacrament to nourish with his flesh the sheep he had redeemed” (In Evangelia homiliae, 14, ad loc.).

12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.

“Who is the hireling? He who sees the wolf coming and flees. The man who seeks his own glory, not the glory of Christ; the man who does not dare to reprove sinners. You are the hireling; you have seen the wolf coming and have fled […] because you held your peace; and you held your peace, because you were afraid” (St Augustine, In Ioann. Evang., 46, 8).

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.

The Good Shepherd knows each of his sheep and calls it by name. This touching simile seems to be an exhortation to future pastors of the Church, as St Peter will later on explain: “Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2).

“When Jesus applies this utterly sublime trinitarian love-recognition to the inward mutuality between himself and his own, he elevates this knowledge far above that which is hinted at by the parable. And thus is becomes clear that the first motif of the parable (giving one’s life for the sheep) and the second motif (mutual recognition) coincide rather than merely parallel each other. The Father’s and the Son’s knowledge of each other is identical with their mutual and perfect self-giving, and therefore the knowledge exchanged between Jesus and his own is one with the perfect self-giving of Jesus for and to his own, and it implicitly includes the unity of the Christian’s knowledge and loving dedication to his Lord.” ~ Balthasar, LW, 189

And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

The unity of the Church is to be found under one visible head, for “it was to the Apostolic College alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God” (Vatican II, Unitatis redintegratio, 3). It is a Catholic’s constant yearning that everyone should come to the true Church, “God’s only flock, which like a standard lifted high for the nations to see, ministers the Gospel of peace to all mankind, as it makes its pilgrim way in hope towards its goal, the fatherland above” (ibid., 2).

17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

“We will never fully understand Jesus’ freedom. It is immense, infinite, as is his love. But the priceless treasure of his generous holocaust should move us to ask, ‘Why, Lord, have you granted me this privilege which I can use to follow in your footsteps, but also offend you?’ Thus we come to appreciate that freedom is used properly when it is directed towards the good; and that it is misused when men are forgetful and turn away from the Love of loves” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 26).

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