15 May – Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Shepherd And Guardian Of Our Souls
Today we rejoice in the Lord, our Shepherd, who calls us to himself.
Acts of the Apostles 2:14.36-41
On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’
Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
1 Peter 2:20-25
The merit, in the sight of God, is in bearing punishment patiently when you are punished after doing your duty.
This, in fact, is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow the way he took. He had not done anything wrong, and there had been no perjury in his mouth. He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was tortured he made no threats but he put his trust in the righteous judge. He was bearing our faults in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our faults and live for holiness; through his wounds you have been healed. You had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
Jesus said: ‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’
Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.
So Jesus spoke to them again:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
I am the gate of the sheepfold.
All others who have come
are thieves and brigands;
but the sheep took no notice of them.
I am the gate.
Anyone who enters through me will be safe:
he will go freely in and out
and be sure of finding pasture.
The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come
so that they may have life and have it to the full.’
They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised
As I write this reflection, Singapore is running up to its most hotly contested general elections in years. People flock to rallies to listen to what candidates can say. The atmosphere is especially electric when the speakers’ ideologies match with those of the audience. Many impassioned pleas are made and met with equally enthused responses. There is however, a cooling-off day before the polls where no campaigning is allowed. This is to give everyone time to reflect on everything that has been raised in order to make an informed choice. By the time this reflection circulates, polling day will have passed. When the dust eventually settles, I hope that the outcome, whatever it is, will be one based on well-considered choices that resonate with the people.
Today’s first and second readings show a different Peter from the one we are familiar with in the Gospels. While he had always been somewhat of a maverick, he was never portrayed as an inspiring speaker till now. This Peter, now fully in his role as head of Christ’s Church, gives such powerful speeches that multitudes are converted. What made this Peter different was that He spoke with the same conviction that Jesus had; a conviction that the people understood and resonated with. As the Lord Himself said, the flock recognise the Shepherd and follow Him. This is what the people saw in Peter. This is why they accepted what he said.
Many of us would be familiar with the phrase “talk is cheap”. Whether there are actions to back words up is what separates charlatans from those who sincerely want to make a difference. If we truly have cogency with Jesus Christ, people will see and be truly convinced that He is present in our lives. As we approach the end of Easter, let us reflect if the choices we have made this season truly resonate with the risen and ascended Lord.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray that the Word will be evident in all that we say and do.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for speaking to our hearts.
Mon, 16 May – Acts of the Apostles 11:1-18; John 10:11-18
Tue, 17 May – Acts of the Apostles 11:19-26; John 10:22-30
Wed, 18 May – Acts of the Apostles 12:24-13:5′ John 12:44-50; Memorial for St John I, Pope & Martyr
Thu, 19 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:13-25; John 13:16-20
Fri, 20 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:26-33; John 14:1-6; Memorial for St Bernadine of Siena, Priest
Sat, 21 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:44-52; John 14:7-14; Memorial for Ss Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs
Sun, 22 May – Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12; Fifth Sunday of Easter