E4A. Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41. “God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” That crowd accept the truth of the words of Peter and so, they asked, “’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.’” To repent is to reject everything that is not of the Will of God. To be baptized is to accept entry into the Church, the community of God, so that together, through the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, we may become God’s holy people. Being conceived into the human race is the vocation to become holy through both an individual and communitarian effort.
John 10:1-10. “Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.” This sentence is key to understanding the comparison that Jesus draws between himself as the Savior who leads us out of the motivation for what is good for us versus the Pharisees who are leaders for what they can gain for themselves. Jesus proclaims himself to be benevolent gatekeeper, gate and shepherd who has come to save us by giving us the abundance of eternal life; whereas, the Pharisees are thieves and robbers who steal, slaughter and destroy the good things that God does and has given to those who believe in him. Jesus says of himself, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” In John 14:6, “Jesus said to Thomas, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” It is only if we go to God the Father that we can have salvation and the only way to him is through Jesus. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” Without Jesus the work of the Pharisees is destructive. In fact they block the way to God.
“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.” Jesus’ followers develop a sense of personal closeness to him because they feel they belong to Jesus and Jesus feels they belong to him and so cares for them deeply. “But they will not follow a stranger.” Jesus’ followers have come to trust him, i. e., put their faith in him and in him alone.
1 Peter 2:20b-25. “Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” In the English language we say that verbs have an active and a passive voice. In the active voice the subject acts, in other words, is the one who performs the action spoken of by the verb. In the passive voice the subject receives the action spoken of by the verb. When we speak of Jesus’ Passion, we are saying that he received the action spoken of by the verb which was torture and death, i. e. that he willingly received the suffering that was dealt to him. In this reading from Peter (“If you are patient”) the word patient means that we willingly receive the suffering that is dealt to us. Living life in ‘the good times and in the bad’ for one another is commonly recognized as what life here on earth is all about. To Christianize suffering is to say that the cause for suffering is a grace from God, an opportunity to give ourselves to God’s Will as Jesus did in the Agony of the Garden (Matthew 26:38-42), when he asked that the cup of suffering that was about to be his, pass him by but God the Father rejected his plea. It is the nature of all living things to seek what feels good and avoid what feels bad. It is supernatural, spiritual to seek to fulfill the Will of God, no matter how it feels. “The spirit is willing; the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41b) How much more merit there is to do God’s Will when it is difficult and against what we naturally would like to do. The Shepherd gave himself for the sheep; should not the sheep be obedient to the Shepherd even unto death?