top of page
Easter Altar 3.JPG

Breaking Open the Word

4th Sunday of Easter
April 21, 2024

00:00 / 01:54


Today is Sunday April 21st. It is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. There are a few themes that can be found in the readings for today – the shepherding of sheep, the laying down of one’s life, becoming children of God, and the rejection of the one who is the cornerstone. Each of these themes have one thing in common – the person of Jesus Christ.

The First Reading from the Acts of The Apostles strikes to the heart, even today, if we are willing to place ourselves in the scene. Peter is speaking to the leaders of the people and the elders and makes this statement about the cripple whom he healed outside the temple, “… you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” 

Unfortunately, our modern culture, and our own sinfulness, contribute to the crucifixion of Christ in the world today. Often the teachings of the Catholic Church are rejected in the culture of the times, frequently by Catholics themselves.

However, due to the depths of the love and mercy of God, we are privileged to be called children of God. These words from the first Letter of Saint John are particularly moving – “Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” Take a moment and allow those words to sink in! Through the love of the Father, made visible in the person of Jesus Christ, you are a child of God.

00:00 / 02:11

Gospel Explained

The Gospel passage today from John begins with these words – “Jesus said, ‘I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.’” When you look at the crucifix above the altar at St Elizabeth Seton, or any crucifix for that matter, what do you see? Do you see a man whose life was taken from him? Do you see someone who was seized by Jewish leaders in a garden and put to death on a cross by Roman executioners? Do you see a victim or a victor?

Jesus laid down his life that day on Calvary for all the sheep of the fold. He laid it down for the sheep that lived before Jesus came into the world; the sheep present during his earthly ministry; and the sheep he already knew he would knit in their mother’s womb as time continued to unfold.

Jesus is very clear about this – he was in complete and total control during his passion and death. The Gospel of John is explicit about this – “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down and power to take it up again.”

Why does Jesus lay down his life? The Good Shepherd does that to show the sheep their worth. Jesus has given his life in the fight for yours. YES YOURS! We see these words later in the Gospel of John in John 15:13, “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

Friends, Jesus laid down his life, it was not taken from him. That is how much he values you, so much so that he calls you friend and he was willing to offer his life for yours.

00:00 / 01:14

Today's Theme

“I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I will lay down my life for my sheep” - This line from the Gospel of John is a well-known verse from Scripture. It shows us the type of relationship Christ seeks with each of us. What does a shepherd do – the shepherd guides, leads, cares for, protects his sheep. Sheep are not the smartest of the animals; they are timid, easily spooked, and defenseless against predators.

We are more like the sheep than we realize. Due to the great sin of pride, we often venture through life without a shepherd. We refuse to allow ourselves to be like sheep - we wander around aimlessly without direction; we seek to be self-sufficient instead of allowing ourselves to be cared for; we leave ourselves exposed to sin and the devil “who prowls around like the roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”

00:00 / 00:38

Theme in our Life Today

Our shepherd knows us, but do we know him? Do we make time to get to know the voice of the Good Shepherd? Do we accept the teachings of Christ or do we reject him like the leaders and elders in today’s first reading? Do we see the Catholic Church as the building for which the cornerstone was set? If we do not understand or agree with a teaching of the Catholic Church, do we simply reject it or do we read about it, study it, and try to understand it?

00:00 / 00:47

Prepare for Sunday

Do you see yourself as so valued by God that he would send his son to lay down is life for you? Why or why not?

Do you recognize the voice of the good shepherd? What can you do to be more in tune with Jesus’ voice?

Who or what is the cornerstone in your life? How confident are you in the durability of that rock?

Reflect on a teaching of the Catholic Church that you are inclined to reject? How much do you know about it? Why are you inclined to reject it? Would you be willing to spend some time studying it, discussing it and trying to understand it? 

Why or why not?

bottom of page