In the readings for this Good Shepherd Sunday, April 22, Peter defends the cure of a crippled person, and Jesus gives us the image of the Good Shepherd.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
The readings for this Sunday, April 22, the Apostles are beginning to have some trouble with the authorities. They’ve moved from just preaching to healing in the name of Jesus, and it’s making the religious leaders uncomfortable. They had hoped to wipe out the memory of Jesus by having him killed, and the Apostles just picked up where Jesus left off. Since the leaders didn’t recognize Jesus for who he was, they can’t recognize or comprehend what the Apostles are able to do with the power of God. The second reading expounds on this, reminding us that people can’t recognize our being children of God, because they don’t know who God is. But, we know! And we’ll know perfectly when we get to heaven. Jesus tells us that he will always care for us because we belong to him. He is our Good Shepherd–the one who loves us so much that he was willing to die to protect us.
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.
The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
1 John 3:1-2
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
What is God like? We can look for clues in our human nature—John tells us that we’re made in God’s image, and that we are his children. He also tells us that when we go to heaven, we’ll see the fullness of God and know more perfectly who we are as well. For a most perfect picture of God on earth, we look to Jesus. Jesus is the “fullness of revelation” of the Father. There’s nothing we can learn about God that we can’t find in Jesus. And Jesus presents himself as a Good Shepherd.
What does a Good Shepherd do? He lays down his life for his sheep. He gathers sheep to safety, bringing strays in, bringing the lost in, bringing the ones who know they belong in. A sign of Christ’s presence is unity. Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice and become part of the one flock. Catechesis, catechism, catechumen, catechist; the root of these words means “echo.” What we do when we come to know God is learn to hear his voice in our world and to echo it forward. Jesus calls to his flock by using us as his voice. Jesus gathers the lost and straying in by sending us out to echo his love to them. We reflect that image of God that was placed in each of us when we echo Jesus’ love.
The Apostles healed a crippled person by using Jesus’ power. Jesus has the power to save all people and he gave us the command to continue that work. His death and resurrection are God’s perfect expression of love for us, and model the sacrificial love that we need to echo into the world.
Do you treat the things that belong to you better than you treat things that belong to other people?
John tells us that when we see God face to face “what we shall be” will be revealed. What do you think that means? What more do you think there is to us that we aren’t aware of?
How do you echo God’s love to others? How have you experienced Jesus as the Good Shepherd? What does Jesus’ discussion about the “one flock” tell us about our call to unity as Christians?
Bonus Question for all three groups:
Celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday by doing something together as a little flock.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”