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1st Reading Acts 4:8-12
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 118
2nd Reading 1 John 3:1-2
Gospel John 10:11-18

 

Hello, my friends, my name is Dr. Mark Hobson, and welcome to this homily teaching on the Fourth Sunday of Easter in Year B, titled “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Today, we will review the readings for today, speak of the themes of our lessons, and close with a story.

Let’s begin by sharing my screen and reading the Holy Gospel of Saint John+ (May the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart).

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 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 again; this charge I have received from my Father.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

(Stop sharing screen).

As we noted last week, in the early chapters of the book of Acts, written by Saint Luke as a historical document to accompany his Gospel, the two primary characters are Saints Peter and John, the oldest and youngest of the original Apostles. In later chapters, we read of the teachings and travels of Saint Paul. Luke writes that Peter begins his speech to the leaders of Israel, “filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit occurred in Chapter two and Luke tells us Peter is a prophet filled with Spirit. Jerusalem is abuzz as Peter just healed a man who was known to many people. Next, Peter uses a term from Psalm 118 regarding the “cornerstone,” the essential stone for construction of the Temple. The leaders rejected the stone, Jesus, and now God is calling together all people to stand on this true rock of faith. Peter closes by exhorting the crowd to believe in Jesus because “there is salvation in no one else.” We see how Peter speaks eloquently and boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit that is building the church.

Our next reading, Psalm 118, reinforces the lessons of Peter’s speech as we pray, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the LORD’s doing; and it is marvelous in our eyes.” This psalm is both a prayer and prophecy regarding the power of praying in the Name of the Lord. The passage ends with the prayer that the “steadfast love of God endures forever!”

Our reading from the first letter of Saint John continues the theme of giving thanks to God for the great love we received in Jesus. John begins, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (V.1). When Jesus returned to the Father, He formed a heavenly family of Father, Son, and Spirit that we, as God’s adopted children, are now full partakers of the inheritance of God, eternal life. When Jesus appears again, we shall live in heaven body and soul forever. And we shall have renewed bodies just like Jesus. Personally, I look forward to being spiritually buff like Jesus!

We turn to Saint John’s Gospel story of the Good Shepherd. Jesus uses the phrase, “I AM the Good Shepherd.” John’s Gospel has seven I AM phrases of Jesus. I AM is a direct parallel to the name God used in the Old Testament with Moses at the burning bush. Moses asked God in Exodus (3:14) “What Name should I tell the people?” God responds, “Tell them I AM sent me to you.”

The seven I AM phrases in John are: 1) I am the bread of life, 2) I am the light of the world, 3) I am the door of the sheep, 4) I am the good shepherd, 5) I am the resurrection and life, 6) I am the way, the truth, and the life and 7) I am the true vine. In essence, Jesus is telling us I am whatever you need. By using these I am phrases, John is telling us as Yahweh is the one true God, Jesus is the one true divine revealer of God – no other is comparable.

Regarding the phrase today, Jesus is saying I am not only your Shepherd, I am the good Shephard. The word good in Greek is kalos, and this word is translated in English as “wholesome, good, and beautiful.” These terms certainly describe Jesus for me.

When I think about the lesson of the Good Shepherd, I think about the integrity and consistency of Jesus as leader of the Apostles. The Bible tells us that Jesus always explained his teachings to the crowds privately to the Apostles. Jesus wanted them to know and understand Who He was and what He meant. Jesus also told the Apostles that He prayed for them. Consider the image of God praying for us.

In my life, my maternal grandmother, with the beautiful name of Aurore that means heavenly, was my good Shepherd. We called her “Nana.” Nana was a widow with five children and many grandchildren. She was clearly the matriarch and leader of our family. Every holiday was celebrated in Nana’s big three-story Victorian house on top of a hill. Nana had a deep spirit of giving. One of Nana’s favorite holidays was New Year’s Day when she held an open house with a huge buffet meal. She invited all her family, friends, and neighbors to this event and the food, wine, and coffee never seemed to run out. So many people came to her home on that day we could hardly move. I think Nana liked it that way.

Nana died on Mother’s Day when I was a sophomore in college. When I was in college, I would often go to Nana’s house after classes. I would sit with her and talk about my life, my classes, and of course, girls. I always asked Nana for advice, and she gave me sage words. Nana was the kindest, most devout, and loving person I have ever known. Nana wanted me to be a Catholic priest, yet she knew I really wanted to marry and have a family. Nana told me that she prayed for me every day. Nana was also a prophet. She often gave me words that came true. On the day Nana died, she was in the hospital. I was a little league coach at the time, and opening day of the season was Mother’s Day. I stayed with Nana for some time before the game, and I could tell she was very sick. I told Nana I would see her after the game. She looked deeply into my eyes and said, “No.” I responded, “What do you mean no? I promise I will be here.” Nana kissed me goodbye and before I left, she shook her head “no” with a sad smile. I left wondering what that was all about, yet of course, Nana died while I was at my game. I did not see her again.

Like my Nana, I believe Good Shepherds come in all genders and ages, yet in my experience, the best Shepherds, the ones who are “wholesome, good, and beautiful,” tend to be older and experienced in life. I pray that we will all be good shepherds to our family, friends, and coworkers, giving of ourselves with no concern about what we receive in return.

I hope you enjoyed this message today, friends, and perhaps you could pass this teaching on to someone else who may need it. I also invite you to visit my website, www.drmarkhobson.com for teachings, blogs, videos and my book, The Mantle. God bless you.

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