Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52
Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God. On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ
Good Shepherd Sunday! Always on this Sunday we have a Gospel text relating to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Today the Gospel of John reminds us that if we belong to Jesus, then we know His voice. We need to remember that knowing His voice does not mean that we are always completely faithful to it. But we know it and it is the voice that leads us. Mercy within mercy.
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles today shows these early followers of Christ united among themselves but having conflicts with others. We know from other parts of the New Testament that in time, the early followers of Jesus also had conflicts among themselves. This is part of our human condition and we should never be surprised when conflicts arise, even within our own Church. The challenge for us as followers of Christ is to resolve conflicts in the way that Christ does: with love and humility and the willingness to suffer for the other person.
The Book of Revelations today speaks of martyrdom for the sake of Jesus. This martyrdom takes place in all ages of the Church. We are told that today we have more martyrs than any other age of the Church. Many of us do not experience that challenge in our lives. We must open our eyes and realize that martyrdom is a real possibility even today. It is a reality today in many areas of our world.
The joy of this Sunday is the promise of Jesus that we are in His hand and in the hand of the Father. We must choose to remain there by striving to live our life of faith with great love and with generosity. It is never easy. It is easier to go to Church on Sunday than it is to be loving and generous twenty-four hours a day! It is easier to make sure we go to confession than it is to give our own personal time for the good of others.
Today we must show our faithfulness to the Good Shepherd by our actions: letting Him lead us and form us and guide us. May His mercy and forgiveness draw us deeper into His divine life.