Lectionary Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Easter [a] May 11, 2014

Engaging Faith | Thu, May 1, 2014

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

Fourth Sunday of Easter [a]

May 11, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Acts 2:14a, 36-41

1 Peter 2:20b-25

John 10:1-10



May 8: World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

May 11: Mother’s Day in the United States and Canada

May 15: Anniversary of Rerum Novarum (1891)

May 15: International Day of Families 



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


In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.  

- Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, A Call to Action


Forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples. There is no peace without forgiveness!

- John Paul II, January 1, 2004


I don't want to betray my children; I don't want to fail to do the necessary for Jesus, living on in his members. It's Jesus who is in this unhappy situation. 'Whatever you do to one of these little ones, you do to me.'  I don't want to be a bad shepherd or a dumb watch-dog. I'm afraid of sacrificing Jesus for a quiet life and a strong taste for tranquility, for my cowardice and natural shyness."

- Charles de Foucauld


Inequality is the root of social evil. 

- Pope Francis@Pontifex April 28, 2014


Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

- Pope Francis, homily, 27 April 2014


Thoughts for your consideration

On Mothers’ Day, a day started to promote peace, today’s image of Christ as the Good Shepherd invites us to apply this image to the issues of our world.  


  • Does not the Good Shepherd challenge our international institutions to show a special care for those in need – the poor, the powerless, women, children, minorities, refugees, etc.?  
  • Does not the Good Shepherd challenge our nation and its institutions to a more sincere and effective respect for human rights?
  • Does not the Good Shepherd invite us to use the techniques of nonviolence rather than the weapons of war and intimidation?
  • Does not the Good Shepherd challenge us to address the issues of inequality of educational opportunity experienced by many children? 
  • Does not the Good Shepherd want us to create a world with less inequality and injustice among all people?
  • Does not the Good Shepherd call us to energy and environmental policies which respect the planet and all its creatures?


A world that makes real the loving care of the Good Shepherd must work to put an end to all kinds of abuse that may be endured by God’s people. We must not forget those who are abused by unjust economic systems, children who are denied a good education or proper nutrition, nations whose people are abused by mountains of debt and by the policies of international financial institutions, those who have been victims of sexual abuse, those who work hard for something less than a living wage, the planet which is abused by our energy use and our stress on profits, women who are denied basic human or economic rights, and all who are abused in any way by the structures of injustice.

Like the people in today’s story from Acts who were “cut to the heart,” we are aware of our own failures, personal and communal. Peter says, “Repent.” He says forgiveness and reform is possible and thousands come to salvation.  Our church, our nation, and our world can also move toward a new life and redemption.  Our world can come to salvation!  As John Paul II once wrote, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • The people in Acts “were cut to the heart” after hearing Peter. Then they wanted to know what to do. What situations in our world “cut to your heart” and make you want to take action of some sort to promote justice?
  • When and where have you seen individuals or groups of people being abused by “bad shepherds” or by institutions and the system?



“There's a famous story about the lion who came upon a flock of sheep and to his amazement found a lion among the sheep. It was a lion who had been brought up by the sheep ever since he was a cub. It would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep. The lion went straight for him, and when the sheep lion stood in front of the real one, he trembled in every limb. And the lion said to him, "What are you doing among the sheep?” And the sheep-lion said, "I am a sheep." And the lion said, "Oh no you're not. You're coming with me." So he took the sheep-lion to a pool and said, "Look!" And when the sheep-lion looked at his reflection in the water, he let out a mighty roar, and in that moment he was transformed. He was never the same again.”

Actions - Links

Mother’s Day

In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother's Day in 1872.  Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, saw Mother's Day as a day dedicated to peace after having lived through the horrors of the United States' Civil War. She saw it as a world-wide protest of women against the cruelties of war. See

“Julia's Voice is the modern voice of Julia Ward Howe.”  Also check out their efforts to celebrate Mother’s Day and peace at

Violence Against Women

Urge Your U.S. Representative to Support the International Violence Against Women Act:


“Crazy Facts”

The United States spent about $80 billion on its system of jails and prisons in 2010 — about $260 for every resident of the nation. By contrast, its budget for food stamps was $227 a person.

In 2012, 2.2 million Americans were in jail or prison, a larger share of the population than in any other country; and that is about five times the average for fellow industrialized nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, lead us on the road to justice.

For those who have leadership roles in our governments and our churches, we pray….

For all teachers that they may open students to truth and right action, we pray….

For journalists and writers that they may make us aware of those most in need, we pray….

For parents that they may share good and healthy values with their children, we pray…..

For all mothers on this Mother’s Day, that they may be good shepherds of their children, we pray….

For refugees and immigrants who seek to find their place in our communities, we pray….

For all of us that we may live in a responsible way to take care of our planet, we pray….

For all of us that we may be committed to the common good, we pray…..



Shepherding for Justice

Good Shepherd, thanks for the shepherding.

Thanks shepherding us through the challenges of our life.

Thanks for shepherding our world with your vision of new life and justice.

Thanks for all those men and women who have joined in the shepherding.

Thanks for those who have listened to the needs of the poor and oppressed.

Thanks for those who have challenged us to listen.

Thanks for those who have showed us the way of nonviolent active love.

Thanks for those who have not forgotten your vision.


Good Shepherd, help us to shepherd each other on the journey.

Help us to be open and to listen to those in need.

Help us to speak up with courage and wisdom.

Help us to put our faith in action.


Good Shepherd, shepherd our complex institutions and governments.

May they be open to the needs of all.

May they listen to those who suffer.

May they welcome those who are left out.

May they put an end to war and violence.

May the poor and powerless know their power.

May minorities and refugees experience welcome.

May all women and children be honored with awesome respect.

May we all learn from one another.

May human rights rule the world.



Prayer for Mothers 

From the Education for Justice Website:

In Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe . . . We give thanks for mothers everywhere. 

When times are hard, in situations of suffering . . .

We give thanks for the sacrifices they make each day for their children. 

For their examples of love, caring, and hope . . . We give thanks for their generosity, their compassion and their hope for the future. 

In the Congo, Iraq, Uganda, Palestine, Libya, Colombia . . . We remember mothers in our global community who care for their children as guns of war are heard. 

In Zimbabwe, India, Guyana, Belize, Botswana . . . We remember mothers as sicknesses such as AIDS and malaria ravage their lands. 

In Haiti, Burundi, Eritrea, Cambodia, Guatemala . . . We remember mothers whose access to food and water is scarce. 

In Sudan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Afghanistan . . . We remember mothers who bundled up their children, fled their homes, and became refugees. 

Mary, Mother of God, embrace all mothers, give them strength and courage and mother their spirits so they can continue to heal the wounds of their children and of the world. We give thanks for mothers everywhere. Amen.