Extracted from the book of Revelations 7:9,14-17:
I, John, saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands.
One of the elders said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb, they now stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’
Extracted from holy Gospel according to John 10:27-30:
‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’
On 21 April 2013, the Universal Church celebrated the 4rd Sunday of Easter, which was also “Good Shepherd Sunday”. Here are the Readings being read in the Eucharistic Celebrations all over the world on the same day:
1st Reading: Acts of the Apostles 13:14,43-52 (see previous page),
Responsorial: Psalm 100:1-3,5 (see previous page),
2nd Reading: Revelations 7:9,14-17 (see above) &
Gospel Reading: John 10:27-30 (see above).
We have extracted the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis I based on the aforesaid Readings to share with you, so that you could similarly be encouraged:
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Good Shepherd Sunday
1. The Good Shepherd! This biblical figure is drawn from observation and experience. For a long time Israel was a people of shepherds, and the tradition from the time of the patriarchs and subsequent generations is reflected in the texts of the Old Testament. The shepherd, the one who watches over his flock and leads it to fertile pastures, became the image of the man who guides and heads a nation, ever mindful of its concerns. This is how the shepherd of Israel is depicted in the Old Testament.
In his preaching, Jesus refers to this image but introduces a completely new element: the shepherd is the one who lays down his life for his sheep (cf. John 10:11-18). He attributes this trait to the good shepherd, distinguishing him from the hireling, who therefore cares nothing for his flock. Indeed, he presents himself as the prototype of the good shepherd who is able to give his life for his flock. The Father has sent him into the world so that he will not be the shepherd of Israel alone but of all humanity.
It is especially in the Eucharist that the work of the Good Shepherd becomes sacramentally present; after preaching the “Good News” of the kingdom, he offered his own life in sacrifice for his sheep. Indeed, the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection, of his supreme act of Redemption. It is the sacrament in which the Good Shepherd makes his sacrificial love for all constantly present.
2. Dear deacons of the Diocese of Rome, on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, usually called “Good Shepherd Sunday”, when the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is celebrated, you are about to receive the sacrament of the priesthood, which will conform you to Christ the Good Shepherd. You will become ministers “who through his Spirit continually exercises his priestly function for our benefit in the liturgy” (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5).
With the sacrament of Baptism, you will bring individuals into the People of God; with that of Penance, you will reconcile sinners with God and with the Church; and with the Anointing of the Sick, you will alleviate the sufferings of the infirm. Above all, you will be ministers of the Eucharist: you will receive this sacrament as a priceless inheritance in which the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice is renewed daily and the decisive event of his Death and Resurrection for the world’s salvation continues. You will celebrate the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearances of bread and wine, as he himself offered it for the first time in the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion. You will thus be personally associated with the mystery of the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep.
Be conscious of the sublime mission which is entrusted to you today! It consists of sharing in Christ’s own mission. You will be his priests for ever: “Tu es sacerdos in aeternum”.
And every day, dear friends, as you devoutly approach the altar, renew your generous “here I am” to the Lord, so that your life, in the image of the Good Shepherd’s, may be totally dedicated to the good of souls.
3. Dear deacons, the Church in Rome rejoices at your ordination. I am the first to rejoice, because as your Bishop I can lay my hands upon you, invoking on you the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops and the diocesan priests, whose presbyterate you are about to enter as promising younger brothers, rejoice with me. Your parents, your relatives and friends and all who have guided you in your formation and share your joy today are happy as well. The whole diocesan community, gathered here in spirit, gives thanks to the Holy Spirit for the gift of this spiritual fruitfulness.
With deep gratitude it sings the hymn Veni Creator, imploring an abundance of the seven gifts for you:
“Accende lumen sensibus, infunde amorem cordibus
Mindful of the example of the Good Shepherd, who by the sacrifice of his own life protected the flock from the enemy, the Church of Rome also prays:
“Hostem repellas longius, pacemque dones protinus
She calls upon the Spirit of truth to lead you to full knowledge of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
“Per te sciamus da Patrem, noscamus atque Filium,
And with hearts overflowing with gratitude for the ineffable mystery which is accomplished in you today, we proclaim together the glory of the triune God:
“Deo Patri sit gloria, et Filio, qui a mortuis
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.