"Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Bill Ayres on Apr 29, 2023 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

(Chapter 2:14a, 36-41)

“Then Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: ‘Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you have crucified. … Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and asked Peter and the other apostles, ‘What are we to do, my brothers?’” Peter said to 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.’”

Imagine how excited the apostles are. They are actually with Jesus. They know that this remarkable series of events really happened, and as witnesses they have both the power and the responsibility to share this “good news.” And, they have received the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit which they are offering to share with all who believe.

That is the same Holy Spirit that you and I have received and that lives within us every day of our lives. Think of the Holy Spirit as your life-long partner who is there every day, even when you are not aware of this powerful Presence.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6)

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” This is Psalm 23, perhaps the most popular and beautiful of all the psalms. Jesus himself said that he was the Good Shepherd who would lay down his life for us, and he did just that. Then, of course, we have that assurance that has such great power for us now: “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.” Our journeys through life often lead us through dark valleys, but we are not alone. The Spirit of God is with us.

A reading from the First Letter of Peter

“Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.”

How much suffering is there in your life right now? Is it physical, emotional, spiritual, economic, or some combination that may change day to day? Do you ever think of the suffering of Jesus? Certainly, there was extreme physical suffering, but there was also the suffering of rejection and betrayal, as well as the suffering that he knew would come, because of him, to so many people that he loved. That is not suffering that we read or talk about very often but it must have been there deep in his heart, especially regarding his mother, Mary, whose heart was certainly broken and slowly healed through her great faith and the love of his extended family.

Let us link our suffering to the suffering Jesus and look forward to the day when we, like him, will live in the presence of the Father who heals our deepest wounds.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

(Chapter 10:1-10)

I have never met a shepherd, and I doubt that many of us have. But shepherds were an everyday part of life in the Israel of Jesus’ time and for many centuries before. In this gospel story, Jesus uses the image of the shepherd to make two important points. Throughout the history of Israel there were many charlatans who were not what they pretended to be, not true shepherds of the people. To make this point, Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep…. The sheep hear his voice as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…. He walks ahead of them and the sheep follow him.”

Of course, today we don’t think of sheep as especially smart animals and we do not think of ourselves as sheep to be led, but for Jesus this was an appropriate image. The Pharisees claimed to be good shepherds, leading the people of Israel, but they were not. They were “thieves and robbers.”

Today, we do think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and even name many of our churches after him in that role. We follow Jesus as one who takes care of us far beyond the limitations of a title given two thousand years ago. He is our caretaker, our healer, our brother, and our Spirit Giver, leading us to our Father.


Statue of the Good Shepherd, circa 300-350 AD, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome. Source: Wikimedia Commons. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Topics: Good Shepherd, Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres, Fourth Sunday of Easter

Close Encounters

Posted by Sharon Krause on Nov 2, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I believe most of us have experienced a close encounter with the Lord every once in a while, perhaps while we are praying or attending a religious function. I will never forget the wonderful closeness I felt with God as I attended the Mass being celebrated for my graduating class of the Catholic Biblical School in Newington, Connecticut. The celebrant was reading from Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John, as Jesus prays for his disciples, which I quote in part:

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who
will believe in me
  through their word, that they may all be one.
As you, Father, are in me and I am in
you, may they also be in us,
so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The glory that you have given me I have given them,
so that they may be one, as
we are one, I in them and you in me,
that they may become completely one, so
that the world may know
that you have sent me and have loved them
even as you
 have loved me.” (Vs 20-23) 

It seemed as if the reading was meant for me, that Jesus was praying for me very personally. There was a peace that lingered, a graduation gift I still hold dear.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, Good Shepherd, Gospel according to John, prayer, Psalm 23, RENEW International, sins, spiritual life, centering prayer, close encounter

How You See It

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 14, 2020 10:28:20 AM

Have you ever heard of lenticular printing? Well, that is the process that is used to create the print I have hanging in my kitchen. Basically, if I look at the picture from one angle, I see Jesus at the Last Supper. If I move slightly and look again, I see Jesus on the cross. If I move again, I see Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It’s all in one picture frame, all colorful and very detailed. It is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made!

I don’t know about you, but I am inspired by visual aids. For example, I might be getting something out of the refrigerator, and as I close the door and look over on the wall where that print hangs, I see the Good Shepherd and am reminded of that beautiful Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd.” A few verses might come to mind and a little prayer may be inspired. Lovely, useful visual stimulation!

We know people’s observations and conclusions do not always agree. Three individuals could understand the same concept in three different ways. We come from different backgrounds, disciplines, experiences, and belief systems; no wonder we hear of controversies and arguments.

Today is the optional memorial of St. Callistus I, a third-century pope who was greatly criticized, particularly by St. Hippolytus, on matters of discipline and doctrine. From the writings of Hippolytus, we gather that he considered Callistus too lenient toward sinners and differed with the pope on issues including the reception of Holy Communion, marriage, and even ordination requirements. They probably had read many of the same texts and documents but had come to different interpretations.

How we see things is a subject in sacred scripture too. In a few of the verses from the optional gospel reading for the memorial, Luke 22:24-26, we read about Jesus correcting the disciples’ vision of greatness.

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them
was to be regarded
as the greatest.
But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles Lord it over
and those in authority over them are called benefactors.
But not so with
you; rather the greatest among you must become
like the youngest, and the
 leader like one who serves.”

Certainly today, with politicians at odds over a number of issues, we are bombarded with more than one opinion about many important matters affecting our country. I suggest that we bombard Jesus, our Good Shepherd, with prayers for patience, mutual understanding, and above all, for God’s will to be fully accomplished.

The way I see it, St. Paul had wonderful instructions for the Philippians that we should follow:

Do not worry about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace
of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your
minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).

Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, CT. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.

 Scripture passages are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Topics: catholic renew progam, Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, prayer, Psalm 23, RENEW International, St. Hippolytus, St. Callistus I, Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Lenticular printing

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