POPE FRANCIS ON 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER B
OR GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY YEAR B
Saint Peter’s Square
Fourth Sunday of Easter B, 22 April 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The Liturgy of this Fourth Sunday of Easter pursues the aim of helping us rediscover our identity as disciples of the Risen Lord. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter openly declares that the healing of the cripple, which he carried out and which all of Jerusalem speaks about, took place in the name of Jesus, because “there is salvation in no one else” (4:12). There in that healed man is each one of us — that man is the shape of ourselves: we are all there within — there are our communities: each of us can be healed of the many forms of spiritual infirmity that we have — ambition, laziness, pride — if we agree, with confidence, to put our very existence into the hands of the Risen Lord. “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”, affirms Peter, “this man is standing before you well” (v. 10). But who is the Christ who heals? What does being healed by him consist in? What are we healed of? And by means of what attitudes?
The answer to all these questions can be found in today’s Gospel, where Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). This self-introduction by Jesus cannot be reduced to an emotional suggestion, without any concrete effect! Jesus heals through his being a shepherd who lays down his life. Giving his life for us, Jesus says to each one: ‘Your life is worth so much to me, that to save it I give all of myself’. It is precisely this offering of his life that makes him the Good Shepherd par excellence, the One who heals, the One who allows us to live a beautiful and fruitful life.
The second part of the same Gospel passage tells us how Jesus can heal us and make our life joyful and fruitful: “I am the good shepherd”, Jesus says. “I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father” (vv. 14-15). Jesus does not speak of intellectual knowledge, no, but of a personal relationship, of predilection, of mutual tenderness, reflection of the same intimate loving relationship between him and the Father. This is the attitude through which a living relationship with Jesus is realized: allowing ourselves to be known by him. Not closing up within ourselves; but opening ourselves to the Lord, so that he may know us. He is attentive to each one of us; he knows the depths of our heart: he knows our merits and our defects, the projects we have carried out and the hopes that have gone unfulfilled. But he accepts us as we are, even with our sins, so as to heal us, to forgive us; he guides us with love, so that we can cross even impervious paths without losing the way. He accompanies us.
In turn, we are called to know Jesus. This implies an encounter with him, an encounter which spurs the desire to follow him, abandoning self-referential attitudes and setting out on new paths, indicated by Christ himself and open to vast horizons. When in our communities the desire to live the relationship with Jesus, to listen to his voice and to follow him faithfully cools down, it is inevitable that other ways of thinking and living that are not consistent with the Gospel will prevail. May Mary, our Mother, help us to develop an ever stronger relationship with Jesus. Opening ourselves to Jesus, so that he may enter within us. A stronger relationship: He is Risen. In this way, we can follow him all our life. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, may Mary intercede so that many may respond with generosity and perseverance to the Lord who calls us to leave everything for His Kingdom.
Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Pope added:
As I mentioned earlier, on this Fourth Sunday of Easter the whole Church celebrates the Day of Prayer for Vocations. The theme is: “Listening, discerning, living the call of the Lord”. Let us thank the Lord because he continues to inspire in the Church stories of love for Jesus Christ, in praise of his glory and in service to his brothers and sisters. Today, in particular, let us give thanks for the new priests whom I ordained a short while ago in Saint Peter’s Basilica. And let us ask the Lord to send many good labourers to work in his field, as well as to multiply vocations to consecrated life and to Christian marriage. As I said, I have ordained 16 priests today. Of these 16, four have come here to greet you and bestow the blessing with me. [Four newly ordained priests take their places beside the Pope at the window] […]
Saint Peter’s Square
Fourth Sunday of Easter B, 26 April 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
This day, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, called “Good Shepherd Sunday”, invites us each year to rediscover, with ever new astonishment, how Jesus defined himself, reading it again in the light of his passion, death and resurrection. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11): these words are wholly fulfilled when Christ, freely obeying the will of the Father, is immolated on the Cross. The significance that He is “the Good Shepherd” thus becomes completely clear: He gives life, He offered his life in sacrifice for us all: for you, for you, for you, for me, for everyone! And for this reason He is the Good Shepherd!
Christ is the true shepherd, who fulfils the loftiest model of love for the flock: He freely lays down his own life, no one takes it from Him (cf. v. 18), but He gives it for the sheep (v. 17). In open opposition to false shepherds, Jesus presents himself as the one true shepherd of the people. A bad pastor thinks of himself and exploits the sheep; a good shepherd thinks of the sheep and gives himself. Unlike the mercenary, Christ the pastor is a careful guide who participates in the life of his flock, does not seek other interests, has no ambition other than guiding, feeding and protecting his sheep. All of this at the highest price, that of sacrificing his own life.
In the figure of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we contemplate the Providence of God, his paternal solicitude for each one of us. He does not leave us on our own! The result of this contemplation of Jesus the true and good Shepherd, is the exclamation of poignant astonishment that we find in the Second Reading of the day’s Liturgy: “See what love the Father has given us…” (1 Jn 3:1). It is truly a surprising and mysterious love, for by giving us Jesus as the Shepherd who gives his life for us, the Father has given us all of the greatest and most precious that He could give us. It is the purest and most sublime love, for it is not motivated by necessity, is not conditioned on accounting, is not attracted by a self-interested desire for exchange. Before this love of God, we feel immense joy and we open ourselves to recognizing how much we have freely received.
But it is not enough to contemplate and give thanks. It is also necessary to follow the Good Shepherd. In particular, those whose mission is to be a guide in the Church — priests, bishops, popes — are called to take on not the mentality of manager but that of servant, in imitation of Jesus who, in emptying himself, saved us with his mercy. Also called to this way of pastoral life, that of a good shepherd, are the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, whom I had the joy of ordaining this morning in St Peter’s Basilica.
Two of them are here to thank you for your prayers and to greet you … [two newly ordained priests appear at the window beside the Holy Father].
May Mary Most Holy obtain for me, for the bishops and for the priests of the entire world, the grace to serve the holy People of God through joyous preaching of the Gospel, heartfelt celebration of the Sacraments, and patient and gentle pastoral guidance.
See as well:
4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B (Good Shepherd sunday B)
MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS in https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.org/4th-sunday-of-easter-b-mass-prayers-and-readings/
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