4th Week of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 11:1-18
News came to the apostles and the brothers and sisters in Judea that even foreigners had received the Word of God. So, when Peter went up to Jerusalem, these Jewish believers began to argue with him, “You went to the home of uncircumcised people and ate with them!”
So Peter began to give them the facts as they had happened, “I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when, in a trance, I saw a vision. Something like a large sheet came down from the sky and drew near to me, landing on the ground by its four corners. As I stared at it, I saw four-legged creatures of the earth, wild beasts and reptiles, and birds of the sky. Then I heard a voice saying to me: ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat!’ I replied, ‘Certainly not, Lord! No common or unclean creature has ever entered my mouth.’ A second time the voice from the heavens spoke, “What God has made clean, you must not call unclean.” This happened three times, and then it was all drawn up into the sky. At that moment three men, who had been sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were staying. The Spirit instructed me to go with them without hesitation; so these six brothers came along with me and we entered into the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and telling him: Send someone to Joppa and fetch Simon, also known as Peter. He will bring you a message by which you and all your household will be saved.”
I had begun to address them when suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon them, just as it had come upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If, then, God had given them the same gift that he had given us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to resist God?”
When they heard this they set their minds at rest and praised God saying, “Then God has granted life-giving repentance to the pagan nations as well.”
Gospel: John 10:1-10
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, rather they will run away from him because they don’t recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food.
“The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.”
In the Palestine of Jesus’ time, the sheep follow the shepherd, they are not drive from behind like cattle. Jesus often referred to his ‘flock.’ We are not driven along but rather attracted; we are not feeling before angry shouts but following an encouraging voice. Sheep follow their own shepherd because they recognize his voice. When shepherds meet and sit down to talk, their flocks intermingle, and when they go their separate ways the two flocks separate and follow, never making a mistake. But when a sheep is sick, she will follow just anyone.
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