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Jesus, the Good Shepherd (Fourth Sunday of Easter)

good-shepherd

This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Easter . . . the World Day of Prayer for Vocations . . . and the Catholic Home Missions AppealHere’s what to do to celebrate the day.

Preview the Scriptures

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, caring for his flock and even sacrificing his life to protect them, dates back to the earliest days of Christianity. It’s also a wonderful image to teach kids how to trust in Jesus.

Older kids and teens may want to know that today’s readings focus on questions of identity: the identity of Jesus (as the cornerstone, as the Good Shepherd) and our identity as children of God.

Read and discuss the Sunday Scriptures before going to Mass in order to deepen your experience, and to help your kids become more familiar with the readings. For younger kids, paraphrase the readings, act them out, or find a picture book version to share.

Acts 4:8-12

“There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

1 John 3:1-2

Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

You can find the full set of readings for this Sunday at the USCCB website.

 

Reflect on the readings

Here are some ways to reflect on this Sunday’s readings with your kids, either before or after Mass.

  • Pray with these Scriptures using lectio divina; if you are unfamiliar with this practice, see Lectio Divina for Kids: Praying with Sacred Texts.
  • Give younger kids (ages 5 – 10) a picture of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to have during Mass, as an aid to prayer.
  • Older kids and teens can read the full text of Acts chapter 3, which sets today’s first reading in context: Peter and John, having cured the crippled man and proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, have been arrested by the religious leaders and put on trial. The reading is Peter’s Spirit-led response to the interrogation of the religious leaders: “By what name have you done this?”
  • What names or images do today’s readings give for Jesus? (The cornerstone; the name by which we are saved; the good shepherd.)
  • What, according to the second reading, is our identity in Jesus Christ? (“We are God’s children now.”)
  • The second reading says that because we are God’s children now, we will be like him. What do you think that means?
  • What other, contrary images or identities does our society try to label us with? Older kids and teens can brainstorm and list all of the ways people label one another.
  • What words or phrases come to mind when you think of a shepherd, or of sheep?

 

The Word for this Week

Post a line from this Sunday’s readings on your refrigerator or in another prominent place. Our suggestion?

We are God’s children now…we shall be like him. (1 John 3:2)

 

Talk to your kids about vocations

Today is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and the perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about their vocation. The word vocation comes from the Latin word “call,” and in the sense that the Church uses it, means the life to which one is called by God. Typically, when we talk about vocations in the Church, we focus on the vocations to the religious life (becoming a religious brother or sister), the married life, consecrated single life (consecrated virgins or hermits, and societies of apostolic life or secular institutes), and ordained ministry (the priesthood and diaconate).

Talking to your kids about vocations is as super-simple as asking a question: “Have you ever thought about whether you have a religious vocation?” See where the discussion leads. If you like, you can also head over to the website for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, where you will find videos, prayers, myth-busters, and more. Additional resources on vocations, including vocations to various forms of the consecrated single life, can be found at the USCCB Vocations page.

 

Catholic Home Missions Appeal: Invite your kids to give

This weekend is the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Encourage your kids to give part of their allowance to the appeal as part of their practice of generosity; you can head over to the Catholic Home Missions page to learn more, or watch their video:

http://bcove.me/ipw6lnhj

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