Fourth Sunday of Easter
Today’s readings tell about the confusion and fear that followed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In Acts, the people ask, “What are we to do?” after they are reminded that they were part of the death of Jesus, who was Lord and Christ. In First Peter we are reminded of Jesus’ innocence. He did nothing to deserve the suffering and death that he experienced for us. Both the psalm and First Peter introduce the image of Jesus as shepherd. John’s Gospel talks about Jesus as shepherd but not in the usual way. We recognize this shepherd’s voice because he calls each of us by name. The confusion and fear we too often feel is calmed by the voice of the One who knows us by name.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
The readings describe that time when confused and frightened followers of Jesus looked to the apostles to tell them what to do after the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The answer seems simple. They must believe that Jesus, whom they crucified, is both Lord and Christ, both God and human. They must acknowledge their complicity in his death and seek forgiveness. They must be baptized. In First Peter the standard for their behavior is Jesus’ behavior. Jesus, though free from sin himself, bore our sins and returned no insult or threat. Peter introduces the image of the shepherd who is the guardian of us who have gone astray. The Gospel emphasizes not the shepherd’s leadership but that we are called by name.
LISTEN FOR YOUR NAME
The emphasis in John’s Gospel is not on the leadership of the shepherd. The focus is specifically on the voice of the shepherd. We listen for the shepherd who calls us by name. We are not called to follow passively. We are called to recognize our name when it is spoken. We are to listen so that we can hear the voice of the One who knows who we truly are—not the external, transient realities like “I am a doctor” or “I am a mother.” Our real name known to our Creator is much more than the roles we fill or the work we do. If my name is who I truly am, then I must listen for the One who calls me “forgiven” and “merciful” and “beloved.” For this is my true name. This is my true nature.
Today’s Readings: Acts 2:1, 4a, 36–41, Ps 23:1–6; 1 Pt 2:20b–25, Jn 10:1–10