April 30, 2023 — Fourth Sunday of Easter
ACTS 2:14A, 36-41; PS 23:1-3A, 3B4-6; 1 PT 2:20B-25; JN 10:1-10
Today’s readings on this fourth Sunday of Easter offer us a glimpse into the heart of our loving Savior. He is the Good Shepherd and we can confidently place our trust in Him as we live the stewardship way of life.
In both the first and second readings, we find Peter embracing his role as leader of the newborn Church. In our first reading from Acts, he exhorts the crowd, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” We then read that the ones who accepted his message were baptized that day. Peter simply proposed the Good News to them and then left them free to accept or reject the call to repentance and belief in Christ, which is ultimately a call from God.
We can find many parallels in this passage to the call to a stewardship way of life. We, too, are free to accept or reject God’s call to discipleship. We can keep our time, talents, and treasure for ourselves, purely to serve our own interests. We are free to make that choice.
Or, we can embrace the call to discipleship through the stewardship way of life. If we do so, we will find a path to freedom from “this corrupt generation” just as those first disciples found in the early days of the Church.
Our second reading, again featuring St. Peter, offers further motivation for embracing this way of life. Peter reminds us that Christ, “bore our sins in his body upon the cross.” And that, “by his wounds you have been healed. For [we] had gone astray like sheep but… have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of [our] souls.” Such an incredibly poignant description of the love our Savior has for us and the kind of relationship He desires to have with us — as shepherd and guardian of our souls.
This endearing image of Jesus as shepherd, and His personal love for each one of us, is expanded in our Gospel passage from John, through the words of Jesus Himself. Here we read Jesus’ description of Himself as the “Good Shepherd.” He says of Himself, “The sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”
This aspect of our Lord’s tender and personal love for each one of us is yet another reason to embrace the stewardship way of life — in the offering of our time, talent, and treasure to Him, we can express our gratitude to Him for the incomprehensible love He has for us.
Embracing the stewardship way of life certainly requires trust on our part. But Christ has proven Himself worthy of our trust. He “bore our sins in His body.” He calls Himself our shepherd and He offers Himself as the guardian of our souls. He has withheld nothing of Himself and His goodness from us. He would never ask anything of us that would bring us harm.
On the contrary. Our Lord did not come to take from us, but to give to us. Again, we read His own words from the Gospel passage, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
This Easter season, let us resolve to freely give all of ourselves and our lives gratefully to Him.