Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B
25 April 2021
“Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Today, we are given the image of the Good Shepherd in the gospel from St. John (10:11-18). We all know the difference between the Good Shepherd and the hireling who does not care for the sheep properly. He is a bad shepherd because he is only interested in himself. When he sees danger, he flees because he does not want to risk his life when any danger comes as when a wolf will come to attack the sheep. The Good Shepherd, however, is willing to risk his life for the sheep. Jesus, who in reality is the Good Shepherd, mentions this fact four times: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. Jn. 10: 11-15.
Jesus’ Divine Wisdom of Salvation
Although Jesus is speaking about being the Good Shepherd, He is in reality uttering divine truths of salvation: “And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” Jn. 10: 16-18 As the Son of God, He has been sent by the Father to redeem all men. This is why He must bring other sheep into His fold. To redeem man, Jesus will have to lay down His life which He does willingly; He is not under the power of those who wish to take His life as He gives of His life willingly for His sheep: We see the goodness of the Good Shepherd as He loves His sheep, in reality all men, and that He is willing to lay down His life for them: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn. 15:13
God’s Love for Us
In another passage from St. John, he tells us that God the Father loved the world so much that He sacrificed His only-begotten Son for men: “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” Jn. 3:16 From this, we can see how the Good Shepherd is willing to sacrifice Himself for us, His sheep, out obedience to His Father. This is what St. Peter means in the First Reading (Acts 4:8-12) when he says in his speech before the Jewish leaders that only in Jesus’ name is there salvation: “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 St. Peter also told the Jews that in rejecting Jesus, they fulfilled their own scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected; the same is become the head of the corner.” Ps. 117:22 Jesus, who is the cornerstone, is the most important stone in the building which represents man’s salvation.
Children of God
In today’s Second Reading from St. John’s First Epistle (I Jn. 3:1-2), he repeats the same message of how the world rejected Christ. He tells us that we are children of God, but the world does not know this because they did not know Jesus Christ: “Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him.” I Jn. 3:1 We are children of God because Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, laid down His life for us! We are children now, St. John reminds us, but later we will be something better. This is the salvation that Jesus has won for us. In His Name , we have gained our salvation: “Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.” I Jn. 3:2 St. John goes on to remind us that everyone who has hope in Jesus makes himself holy because Jesus is holy: “And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.” I Jn. 3:3 We need to be holy like Jesus who did the Father’s will in dying for His sheep. If we love the Good Shepherd, we will hear His voice and keep His commandments as good sheep who have been brought into His sheepfold: “And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” Jn. 10:16