1st Reading – The Acts of the Apostles 4: 8-12
Acts show us just how radically Jesus’ followers have been transformed by His risen presence. Before, fear ruled their behavior; now they are courageous. They boldly proclaim Christ crucified and risen; in that process they too enter into the cycle of dying and rising. Only the power of the risen Christ and his Spirit could bring about such a profound change in their lives. (Birmingham, W& W Workbook, 376)
The word for cornerstone in Greek could be more correctly translated as the head of a corner or the capstone or keystone. When building arches, Romans first constructed the two sides of the arch; the last stone to be set in place was the capstone which joined the sides assuring stability and endurance. This capstone was a powerful symbol for Christ for the early Christians. (Celebration, May 2003)
The name of a person is more than just an artificial ‘tag’ to tell one person from another. A name represents the fullness of a person. If we do something in someone’s name, we do it as that person would do it. As a Christian we are to act as Christ, to act in his name. To live this way is to find salvation. Salvation in the name of Jesus is not a ‘magic thing.’ It is a way of life. It is a way of love.
2nd Reading – 1 John 3: 1-2
We are children of God. By nature we are creatures of God, but it is by grace that we are children of God. It is like comparing paternity and fatherhood (Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 73-74). It is one thing to be created, and something entirely endearing and intimate to be family. We are called into this kind of relationship to God. How do we answer? How does God reveal Godself to you? When you sense this, do you feel more like a child of God? Take some prayerful time to sit with these words and mull the questions.
We are called and we are. So we have the tools (and grace) within us to be who God means for us to be, and we are sent forth to go do it. What gets in the way of us knowing this? What gets in the way of us doing this? It is a bit of a paradox. We cannot become like God (which is really being fully who we are) unless we see God; but, we cannot see God unless we are pure of heart (Matthew 5:8), (Barclay’s Daily Study Bible, p. 75). As Merton prays, the desire to please God does please God. So trying counts despite the obstacles!
The Gospel– John 10: 11-18
Imagine the scene. It is first-century Palestine. Each day the shepherd would take his flock out into the desert for the day’s grazing only to return to the sheepfold, a common enclosure with a low stone wall and gated entrance. At day’s end the shepherds would bring their sheep to the fold to keep them safe from the dangers of the night: wolves and thieves. Each night a shepherd was designated to lie down in front of the sheepgate so no one could enter without having to pass him first. He was the protector of the flock – with his very life if need be. Each morning all the shepherds would return to this enclosure. Each shepherd would whistle or call out the names of their sheep. The sheep would know the sound of their own shepherd – they would not respond to anyone else. Their shepherd would then lead them out to safely graze in the pasture; the sheep always followed their shepherd,
Jesus is the model Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep; they know his voice and respond to his voice. There is ownership. Jesus knows his sheep; he knows them by name. He is in loving relationship with them, willing to lay down his life for their good. We are to know Jesus’ voice and trust him unto death.
The early church adopted this image of shepherd for their leaders also. Like Christ, the leaders were to nourish and safeguard the flock. The word pastor was derived from this image. (Birmingham, W&W Wkbk Yr B, 378- 379)
From O Phelps’ The Catholic VIsion for Leading like Jesus: A Shepherd-Leader (SL) abides in humility and yet moves with confidence from one challenge to the next. This builds community and fellowship, fosters contentment and generosity in ourselves and others. An SL builds trust and increases the flow of trust all around them. An SL inspires making greater contributions to the common good. Service, contribution and purpose become the hallmarks of both individual and collective lives. It is a new way to live: the heart that beats in us becomes a servant’s heart. It is always a struggle. And the struggle is lifelong (p. 63).