Fourth Sunday of Easter Acts 2:14 & 36-41; 1 Peter 2: 20-25; John 10: 1-10
“He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our faults and live for holiness; through his wounds you have been healed. You had gone astray like sheep, but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”
St Peter’s first Letter should be understood as an instruction for the many who had responded to his first proclamation of the Gospel. Overwhelmingly such people were from amongst the most deprived in their society. Suffering and hardship were the daily reality of their lives.
We, in a different generation, and on a truly global scale, are confronted by the suffering and hardship that Covid-19 has come to represent in our own lives. We are searching for answers, but few are forthcoming. Only in Christ, and in the joyful proclamation of his new life, does such widespread suffering begin to find direction. We do not suffer in isolation, but in communion with the Christ who both shares and bears our present suffering. We are indeed wounded and suffering, but when such wounds are shared with Christ, they become one with his wounded body, and it is in such wounds that we find healing.
The Acts of the Apostles records Peter’s proclamation of the Gospel at the first Pentecost. The recorded reaction of the crowd should not pass without note.
“Hearing this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’”
We live at a time when the whole world is asking the same question. What must we do?
Here the Gospel has much to say. “You must repent.” Repentance is something more than a regret, or still less a blaming for what happened in the past. At its heart is a humility that is willing to listen, to be instructed by the past, and a willingness to be led into a future that we cannot achieve by ourselves.
“You must repent and everyone of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The present crisis only adds to the urgency with which every disciple must be renewed in a willingness to share daily in the invitation to share the cross of Christ so as to enter into the joy of his resurrection.
In today’s Gospel that invitation is renewed in the treasured promise of Christ the Good Shepherd.
“I am the gate of the sheepfold. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”