Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2020 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
On Good Shepherd Sunday we contemplate Jesus, who leads us to the fullness of life: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
When Peter was asked how to reach eternal life, he replied: “Repent and be baptized […] and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Act 2:38).
Since we receive Jesus’ life through Baptism and have already been baptized, we could ask why we are not experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promises. It is our lack of repentance that prevents our Baptism from becoming fruitful.
Our self-justification prevents us from entering into eternal life. We live in a culture where everyone tries to justify himself. Thus, Saint Peter tells us in today’s first reading: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Act 2:40).
Under the current circumstances, we can choose to repent and change our lives for the better.
As disciples of Christ, we are called to repent from our sins and repair the sins of others. Saint Peter says: “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps” (1 Pt 2:21).
When we offer our suffering to Christ, we discover the beauty of the life of grace. Participation in the mystery of the cross breaks the crust that separates us from Jesus’ abundant life, from the joys of heaven. When Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water gushed out, the community and their livestock drank (Cf. Nm 20:11). In order to discover the baptismal newness of life, something in us still needs to be broken. Saint Peter says: “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pt 2:24). In order to be healed, we need to experience Jesus’ wounds. Saint Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:19–20). Paul also said: “I bear the marks of Jesus on my body” (Gal 6:17). Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and other saints also received the gift of stigmata, reminding all of us that to be Christian means to follow the example of Christ, participating in his glorious passion. After the resurrection, Jesus’ wounds show us God’s mercy: “The merciful love of the Lord fills the earth” (Ps 33:5).
To participate in Jesus’ cross means to accept reality. Specifically, it means to accept ourselves and the burden we have to carry at this moment in history.
We are led by Jesus, who knows us and calls us by name: “The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (Jn 10:3). In Christ, we find rest and refreshment: “In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul” (Ps 23:2–3).
On Good Shepherd Sunday, let us try to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. He is calling us by name and wants to walk with us on the path to unending joy. May the Virgin Mary, whom we specially venerate in May, help us hear Jesus’s call, so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Amen.