Our first reading today begins with Peter standing up with the Eleven. All of the Eleven were called to be Apostles. As God’s calling, this was their vocation in life. Peter is called to be the first among the Apostles. This is his vocation..
Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. The gospel reading on the Fourth Sunday of Easter always comes from the Good Shepherd discourse in chapter 10 of John’s Gospel.
Peter proclaims to the crowd, “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” It was God’s plan all along for his Son Jesus to be our Lord and Christ. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who watches over us. I
As we reflect on Jesus as our Good Shepherd and Peter’s vocation as the first among the Apostles, the Fourth Sunday of Easter is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations in the Catholic Church. When we hear the word “vocation,” our minds may rush to think of priests, religious, and deacons. These are particular vocations but they are not the only vocations. We are all called to serve God in some way. For instance, marriage is a vocation.
How does it start?
Hearing Peter’s entire speech, many in the crowd “were cut to the heart.” They asked Peter, “What are we to do?” Peter answers, “Repent and be baptized.”
John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of sins. To be baptized now includes the forgiveness of sins but it also includes receiving the Holy Spirit and being born from above to life with God. At times we may fall short. Thank God (literally) that Jesus has died for our sins and that Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness. We also give thanks to God for the gift of the Eucharist that He spreads on the table before us where we receive Jesus’ Body and Blood to strengthen us in our vocation to serve as God directs.
It is not easy. Peter writes of the sufferings we face “for doing what is good.” We ask God for the grace to be patient in our suffering. When Jesus suffered, He did not strike back. “Instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.” Do we hand our lives, our sufferings, over to God or do we go astray?
Jesus is the way. He is the way to Heaven. Jesus speaks of those who try to enter the sheepfold through a different way than the gate. Jesus is the gate. To try to enter Heaven another way is like a thief who tries to enter another way.
Jesus speaks of how the sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd and how they will not follow the voice of a stranger. We are called to follow Jesus as our shepherd but many do not. Why?
Perhaps they do not recognize his voice. They are too busy living their lives their way. There are many voices in the world total telling us different things. Which voice do you follow?
Do you recognize the voice of Jesus?
God knows each one of us by name. He speaks to each one of us. To recognize Jesus’ voice we need to come to Mass to hear God’s Word. To recognize God speaking to us, we need to pray. To recognize God’s voice, we cannot do all the talking in our prayer. We must give God a chance to speak. We cannot recognize his voice if we do not allow ourselves to hear his voice.
Jesus comes so that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” We can trust Jesus.