April 26, 2015 • Fourth Sunday of Easter
Today is popularly know as “Good Shepherd” Sunday. The scriptural image of Jesus the Good Shepherd looms so large in Christian piety that it often obliterates the other images we might encounter in scripture. Peter’s speeches last week and today follow the healing of the man outside the temple. This good deed, done in the name of the Good Shepherd, caused Peter and John to be imprisoned and later called upon to defend themselves. What we heard last week and what we hear today is Peter’s defense of the good deed that he and John performed. This might also be called “good name” Sunday, for Peter emphasizes that it is in the name of Jesus that the man was healed, in his name that the man stood before them, and in his name that all will be saved.
GOOD CHILDREN SUNDAY
Likewise, we might call this “good children” Sunday, based on the beautiful passage from the first letter of John. The apostle John was writing to early Christians who were being ostracized or persecuted by their communities. This is why he refers to the world “not knowing” the children of God, for they do not truly know God. On this day, when we are reminded that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the flock, we should call to mind that if we are living as good children of the loving Father, we will be taking the good news of Christ to places where it is not known and may not be welcome. If we are not encountering some who “do not know us” (who do not comprehend why our faith is so important to us), there is a good chance that we are not witnessing to our faith with the steadfastness and perseverance we ought. All we need do is follow the example of Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles. They gave neither silver nor gold but acted as good children of a loving God, and in the name of God’s Son healed a man, even though it caused them to endure more suffering. This, however, is our calling as members of the flock of the suffering, risen Good Shepherd.
Today’s Readings: Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18