Reflection on This Week’s Readings

THE BEST KIND OF RECOGNITION

Many security systems today use facial recognition, retinal scans, digital fingerprints, thermal imaging, and, yes, the distinctive features of the human voice. This technology may make some of us uncomfortable, but that doesn’t hold back the tide of more and more data collection, profiling, and monitoring of who we are, what we purchase, and how we think.

With this in mind, it is such a relief to hear Jesus say, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). He is communicating a powerful message of divine love, deep compassion, and fierce protection. This level of intimacy and mutual trust is astounding. We are known to Jesus, and he is known to us. This is the best kind of recognition there is because it does not create any anxiety or fear. To be known by God in this way is to find security far more trustworthy than the limited guarantees available from high-tech devices.

How beautiful and comforting it is to affirm the power of our faith in such a way. What Jesus says today resonates strongly with the astounding story of Easter. After Jesus is raised from the dead, he keeps encountering people who aren’t sure who he is—until he calls their names, shows his scars, lifts an ordinary cup, and breaks bread with them. It is thrilling to recognize him in the power of his resurrection—and to trust that in this world and in the world to come, he will also recognize us.

As we grow to know one another, the features of each other’s bodies and personalities become more and more familiar: a wisp of hair, our manner of walking, the humor we enjoy, the things we fear, the experiences we cherish—and, especially, the sound of our voices. Today let us give thanks for mothers, friends, and all those in addition to Jesus who know us best.

From sundaysandseasons.com.

READINGS FOR THE

Fourth Sunday of Easter
Brought over from the second Sunday after Easter in the medieval one-year lectionary is the beloved Good Shepherd Sunday. Despite the popularity of the image of the lone lamb held in the shepherd’s arms, most biblical use of the image of sheep intends a communal interpretation. This Sunday, the conclusion to John 10 includes the metaphor of Christ shepherding a flock of sheep given to him by God.
Concluding the three years of reading John 10 on the fourth Sunday of Easter, we praise the risen Christ as the shepherd whose voice calls us to follow him into eternal life. The entire flock is in the hand of Christ, which is God’s hand. The sheep are given life, but they must follow him there.
During the Sundays of Easter, the first readings come from Acts, to emphasize the ongoing power of Christ’s resurrection through the Spirit. Here a disciple is praised for her contributions to a charity (albeit a gender-stereotyped one), and Peter aided by prayer can raise the dead. Resuscitation of a corpse is not what the New Testament means by resurrection. Yet those who are in Christ can experience a renewed life.

Psalm 23

The most beloved psalm in Christian use was interpreted in the fourth century as a description of the baptized life. The green pastures are the time of baptismal catechesis; the still waters are the font; the soul is restored by the infusion of the Spirit; the right pathways are the moral life of the transformed believer; God’s rod and staff are our guidance for Christian living; the table is the eucharist, with a cup overflowing with mercy; the house of the Lord is the community of the church, within which we enjoy God’s goodness. We thus can think of the first person pronouns—”I” and “me”—as referring to the one body of Christ.

Martyrdoms and other “great ordeals” continue in the twenty-first century. Christians have interpreted the “springs of the water of life” as baptism. This Sunday, as we gather around the table, we are singing with the martyrs songs of praise. The Lamb at the center of the throne is the bread and wine we share.
                                                                                                                                        Copyright © 2019 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS103532.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, 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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