Fourth Sunday of Easter [b]

Engaging Faith | Tue, Apr 24, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the fourth Sunday in Easter, April 29, 2012.

Fourth Sunday of Easter [b]

April 29, 2012


Acts 4:8-12
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18


May 1: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker; International Workers’ Day
May 3: World Press Freedom Day
May 3: World Day of Prayer for Vocations
May 5: Cinco de Mayo


The salvation brought by Christ is continually being offered to us, that it may bear abundant fruits of goodness in keeping with the plan of God who wishes to save all his children, especially those who have gone away from him and are looking for the way back. The Good Shepherd is always going in search of the lost sheep, and when he finds them he puts them on his shoulders and brings them back to the flock. Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation!
-- John Paul II, Jubilee Message for those in Prisons, 9 July 2000

The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner … Economic activity . . . needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. 
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (2009),

People are called to joy. Nevertheless, each day they experience many forms of suffering and pain. The Synod Fathers in addressing men and women affected by these various forms of suffering and pain used the following words in their final Message: "You who are the abandoned and pushed to the edges of our consumer society; you who are sick, people with disabilities, the poor and hungry, migrants and prisoners, refugees, unemployed, abandoned children and old people who feel alone; you who are victims of war and all kinds of violence: the Church reminds you that she shares your suffering. She takes it to the Lord, who in turn associates you with his redeeming Passion. You are brought to life in the light of his resurrection. We need you to teach the whole world what love is. We will do everything we can so that you may find your rightful place in the Church and in society.”
-- John Paul II, Christifideles Laici (1988)

The ministries which exist and are at work at this time in the Church are all, even in their variety of forms, a participation in Jesus Christ's own ministry as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, the humble servant who gives himself without reserve for the salvation of all.
-- John Paul II, Christifideles Laici (1988)

The mission of the Apostles, which the Lord Jesus continues to entrust to the pastors of his people, is a true service, significantly referred to in Sacred Scripture as "diakonia", namely, service or ministry.
-- John Paul II, Christifideles Laici (1988)

Thoughts for your consideration

The gospel image of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd reminds us that Christ’s ministry is a ministry of service and solidarity.  Jesus desires to bring the whole flock together – all men and women – rich and poor – young and old – from all the many nations and groups.  Jesus desires not to dominate or control or manipulate people but to serve them, inspire them, and bring them together.

If we function as “another Christ”  today, what might this “good shepherding” look like?  There are of course many levels of meaning. In light of the incarnation, we cannot focus only on eternal life in some other future world.  Jesus is concerned with what promotes eternal life in the present. We might say that the Good Shepherd is concerned for all the things that promote life:
o Food, water, shelter, health care,
o Community, compassion, solidarity
o Spirituality, freedom, spirit
o Justice, righteousness, virtue
o Peace and nonviolence

We are called to share this same concern.  With the “Good Shepherd” we are called to be involved in the real issues of life and in justice for the whole world.  We are called to empower others with the wonder of this Spirit.


The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has a very simple and direct statement connecting Jesus as the Good Shepherd and the Preferential Option for the poor.

We often think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and ourselves as His flock, because He takes care of our needs whether we are the strongest of the flock or the weakest. If we are the weakest we are given special attention so that we might become strong. This image of Jesus is a visual picture of the theme of Catholic Social Teaching, Preferential Option for and with the Poor and Vulnerable. Just as Jesus made great efforts to seek out the lost and weakest sheep, so too we are called to seek out the poor, to work with them toward empowerment and strength, and to make sure that we are aware of how our decisions affect the less fortunate in our communities.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you experienced the care of a “Good Shepherd?”  
How has this experience helped you to shepherd others?


The first letter of John refers to all of us as “children of God.”
When have you experienced solidarity with those who are need?
When have you experienced a connection with people who were poor?



A shepherd was grazing his sheep when a passer-by said, “That’s a fine flock of sheep you have. Could I ask you something about them?” “Of course,” said the shepherd. Said the man, “How much would you say your sheep walk each day?” “Which ones, the white ones or the black ones?” “The white ones.” “Well, the white ones walk about four miles a day.” “And the black ones?” “The black ones too.”

“And how much grass would you say they eat each day?” “Which ones, the white or the black?” “The white ones.” “Well, the white ones eat about four pounds of grass each day.” “And the black ones?” “The black ones too.” “And how much wool would you say they give each year?” “Which ones, the white or the black?” “The white ones.” “Well, I’d say the white ones give some six pounds of wool each year at shearing time.” “And the black ones?” “The black ones too.”

The passer-by was intrigued. “May I ask you why you have this strange habit of dividing your sheep into white and black each time you answer one of my questions?” “Well,” said the shepherd, “that’s only natural. The white ones are mine, you see.” “Ah! And the black ones?” “The black ones too,” said the shepherd.

The human mind makes foolish divisions in what Love sees as One.

Actions – Links

May 1 is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and an international worker’s holiday. “Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan religious organization that educates and mobilizes the religious people of all faiths in the United States on issues important to working people.”

For “Selected Quotations from Catholic Social Thought on the Rights and Responsibilities of Workers and Labor Unions” go to

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Bishop of Stockton, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote for last Labor Day “Human Costs and Moral Challenges of a Broken Economy.”  Find it at

“Crazy Facts”

The following is from Network, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby:

The wealthiest 1% of our population own more than 90% of us combined.

The wealthiest 10% of our population own more than ¾ of the nation’s wealth.

The median African American household has less than ten cents of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by the median white family.

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Shepherd us, O Lord.
For all who are losing employment during our economic recession, we pray….
For those trapped in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sir Lanka, Darfur, the Congo, and many other places, we pray….
For people without access to healthy water or adequate food, we pray….
For children without access to a quality education, we pray….
For the elderly without a supportive family, we pray….
For the stressed and worried who feel so overwhelmed, we pray…..
For our leaders as we need help to work together for the common good, we pray…..

Prayer - Meditation

Two short prayers for justice can be found on line at:
Here is one of them:

Grant us, Lord God, a vision of our land as your love would make it:
- a land where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
- a land where the benefits of civilized life are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
- a land where different races and cultures live in tolerance and mutual respect;
- a land where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
And give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.