The liturgy offers for our meditation Jesus as the Good Shepherd
And also the Universal Church dedicates this Sunday to pray for vocations, especially to the religious life, diaconate, and priesthood.
FIRST READING – ACTS 13:14; 43-52
Ø Paul and Barnabas who had been sent by the Church of Antioch continue their mission to preach Jesus in the cities they visit (Hechos 13,4)
Ø Each Saturday they go to the Synagogue of the town and announce the good news to the people. By that time the groups of Jesus’ followers were still united to the Jewish faith and practices.
Ø Many Jews accept Jesus and become followers of this new Way, but there are also others who oppose them and do not want to listen to them.
Ø The disciples tell them (Hechos 1,8) :
o That they had to announce Jesus first to them the Jewish people, the chosen people of God.
o And afterwards to all the other peoples (see Psalm 87)
Ø But since they do not consider themselves worthy of it, they will from now on preach to the gentiles.
o The Jews become indignant, but the gentiles are joyful on hearing that.
o The Jews begin a persecution against the apostles who shake the dust from their feet, as Jesus had told them when he sent them to announce the good news (Mt 10:14)
o The Jews, as they had done with Jesus, convince others to go against the apostles.
o And the reading today ends with the same sentence as last week’s reading: They are full of joy to be persecuted because they follow Jesus and preach about Him.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM 100
WE ARE HIS PEOPLE, THE SHEEP OF HIS FLOCK
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands
Worship the Lord with cries of gladness
Come before him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord is God
Our maker to whom we belong
We are his people, the sheep of his flock
Good indeed is the Lord!
His love endures forever
And his faithfulness lasts through every age
« This psalm is an invitation to rejoice and to enter into the presence of God.
« And why?
« Because the Lord our God, is our maker, we belong to him, his love and his faithfulness endures forever.
SECOND READING Rev 7:9; 14b-17
ü We continue to read the book of Revelation, which is a book to give comfort and hope to a people suffering persecution. This book speaks to us about Jesus risen and glorified at the right hand of the Father. Jesus who is now Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is Jesus of Nazareth whom the Gospel speaks about, who is now powerful, but a power which is love.
ü The vision today is awesome; there is a great crowd of people from all nations, colors, languages, races who are before the throne (God the Father) and the Lamb (the Risen Jesus.)
ü They all wear white tunics, white is the symbol of everything related to the life of God, the grace of God.
ü They have palms in their hands, palms are the symbol of martyrdom, of having given the life for the love of God and the love and sake of their brothers and sisters, their fellow human beings.
ü An elder explains to John what he sees through the open door through which he is able to contemplate heaven (Rev 4:1.) The elder explains to him that these people he sees are those who have survived the great tribulation and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb
o What tribulation is this? Persecution, torture, humiliation and death for the sake of Jesus.
o Their robes had been washed in the blood of the Lamb. This is an estrange image, to make something white with blood. But this is the blood of Jesus who purifies us and cleanses us from all our impurities.
o As Scriptures says, “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow (Is 1:18.)
ü In the next paragraph there are many images of the consolation and tender love of our Father God (the One seated on the throne)
o He will shelter them
o They will not hunger or thirst anymore.
o Nor will the sun or any heat strike them
ü Because the Lamb who is in the center of the throne, as we see now the one on the throne is the Lamb
o He will shepherd them
o He will lead them to springs of living water
o And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
ü I invite all of us that during this week before the celebration of Good Shepherd’s Sunday we dedicate sometime if possible every day to recall all the different ways in which the Good Shepherd has consoled, sheltered and led us to the waters of gladness.
GOSPEL Jn 10:27-30
This is a short reading but with a powerful message
On reading it we realize that there are two sections: one is about the sheep the other about the Shepherd.
We are going to concentrate our attention and meditation on the verbs:
o The sheep listen to
§ To listen is not the same thing as hearing
§ Israel’s profession of faith begins with the word “Shema = Listen” Israel.
§ To listen is to follow what the voice says to us, it is to obey.
o They know the Shepherd
§ To know does not mean an intellectual knowledge of something that we get through books or any other kind of information.
§ To know is a living experience is to know a person from the experience of friendship and love.
§ This verb is used in Scripture for the relationship of intimate love between a man and a woman.
§ This means that the sheep know the Shepherd from self experience.
o They follow the shepherd
§ The meaning of this word is not only to walk behind a person
§ It means to try to be like that person whom we follow. It is not only to imitate, but to assimilate his own way of life and of being, and to make it our own according to our identity or personality.
o They will not perish, they will not be snatched from the hands of the shepherd
§ Because the Shepherd gives them his own life, life eternal
§ And no one can take them out of the shepherd’s hands, because they belong to the Father and the Father has given them to Jesus.
o If the sheep listens is because the shepherd speaks to her
o He knows his sheep
o He gives them eternal life, thus they will never perish
o If no one can take them out from the shepherd’s hands, it is because the shepherd protects them
o The Father is he who has given him the sheep.
The last sentence is a wonderful revelation of the relationship between Jesus and the Father, which we have already heard in the reading from the book of Revelation
THE FATHER AND I ARE ONE
Let Jesus reveal to us the deep and consoling meaning of this sentence.
Some months before the Bull of Approval came from Rome, this good servant of God wrote to me from Puerto Principe – he was there at that time to direct the organization of Beneficence by order of his Excellency. He commanded me in this letter to tell him many things about his spirit and mine. I had nothing special to write because I have been always lazy in giving counsels most especially to people who must give them to me, but, as I am afraid to fail in obedience, (because they use it afterwards), before writing I went to the choir for a while to ask our Lord to inspire me what I had to write. The Lord told me; “Tell him to come, that he has worked well there until now, but now I want him to come here for it is more necessary.”Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 75.
This text is the continuation of the one from last week.
6. If he does so to receive greater enlightenment in understanding the attributes of God, he performs an act of faith.
7. If he does so to make his salvation more secure, he performs an act of hope.
8. If he does so to help convert sinners or to free the souls in purgatory, he performs an act of fraternal charity.
9. If he does so to have more to give the poor, he performs an act of the virtue of mercy.
10. If he does so to please God more and more, he performs an act of love of God.
In every act of mortification I can practice all ten of these virtues, depending on the intention I form in doing the action. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 415.
CLARET, Antonio María , Autobiography.
FRAILE YÉCORA, Pedro I. Shema, Lee-escucha-ama, San Pablo 2011.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiography.
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según Las Escrituras, Año C, 2006
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, comentario a la Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo, 2010
THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE, second edition, New American Bible.