Reflection on the Mass readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A) — Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6; First Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10.
How many times have we made mistakes, not just little ones, but big ones… errors in judgment and behavior that cut us to the quick? We all do foolish things and sometimes they hurt others and not just ourselves. And then we seem lost and unsure how to make things right, how to repair the harm, how to move forward and live again. In our first reading from Acts, Peter is addressing the crowds and he tells them they have made a huge mistake—maybe the biggest of their lives. The Chosen People rejected the visitation of their God. Jesus, the Christ, has been crucified and now His resurrection demonstrates that He is truly the Holy One of God. Not only that, He is God, and He had come to the House of Israel and the House of Israel rejected Him.
Of course, not everyone listening had directly participated in this crime, but maybe some had… by their silence, maybe even by their calling out for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus. Even if those present had been ignorant of the Passion and Crucifixion, they knew now and the Scriptures tell us how they felt after learning of it… “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, ‘What are we to do, my brothers?’” (Acts 2:37).
“Cut to the heart…”—we know how they felt for we have felt it too. Peter did not mince words, he was blunt and direct, saying to them, “Jesus whom you crucified…” (Acts 2:36).
But here is the Good News! In answer to their question, Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-29).
That’s right! Jesus came to save us all—even those who had crucified Him. All that was needed now for them to start anew was a contrite heart that repented and desired baptism. Could there ever be greater news than the love of God for His people?
If we allow God, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to be present to us through our encounter with Christ in His Sacred Scriptures and we are willing to surrender to him our thought and will, we can gain great consolation, hope and therefore strength from this passage. There is nothing we can do in this life that is beyond His mercy and healing except our refusal to receive His grace and forgiveness. Many people through the ages have been consoled and restored by the words of the Psalm for this Sunday—The Lord is my Shepherd.
The Twenty-Third Psalm
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep! Three thousand of His sheep were moved by Peter’s words of mercy and exhortation that day and were baptized. No sin and no mistake is too great for the Lord to heal and forgive. Let the Good Shepherd restore you today. Rejoice and be at peace.
Into the deep…
Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™.
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