The Good Shepherd’s promise

21 April 2024 4th Sunday Easter Year B

This week’s readings highlight how knowing Christ can change people. The first reading shows how the Resurrection and the presence of the Holy Spirit transformed Peter. Now, he heals as Jesus did and preaches as Jesus preached.


In Peter, we see living proof of what is further explained in the second reading. Through faith in Christ, we come to participate in the relationship of love and communion that the Son has with the Father: “we are God’s children now.”


Knowing the Father in this way as children of God gives us access to a whole new way of living, and means being transformed into becoming more and more like him. We come to know and participate in God’s way of being.


When Peter heals and preaches, he does so because Jesus lives in him, transforming Peter in his own likeness. Like Peter, we live as co-heirs, through Jesus, to the promises of God. What belongs to Jesus as the Son, namely his capacity to know the Father’s heart and to do the Father’s will, is also promised to us.


Becoming like God does not mean that we lose our individuality or freedom. Instead, we become more our true ourselves, each of us according to the grace and the gifts we have been given.


This is the life for which God created us: to be persons, different and diverse, each uniquely gifted, and, through love, bound together with Jesus, gathered together into one flock with one shepherd.


Like a good shepherd, Jesus has faced and overcome the mortal danger posed to his flock by the power of sin and death, against which they have no other escape. In laying down his life for his sheep, he proves that he is the true guardian, protector and carer of his flock, the Good Shepherd.


Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus claims power for himself and for all who love him over whatever impediments or difficulties befall us on our journey to the fullness of life and union with God. He assures us: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep . . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” Jesus’ power to take his life back up again is the power that restores us to new life and relationship with God.  


Jesus opens up for humanity a whole new way of living. Whatever the hatreds, conflicts and divisions that arise between people, Jesus invites us into one fold, the flock of the Good Shepherd. He calls us to lives of faith, hope and love, under his protection and in relationship with him as the Good Shepherd.


There is no other power or god or ideology in the world that can promise this same hope for the human race that the Good Shepherd promises. Let us follow him.


Joseph Doyle

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