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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, April 21, 2013

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

April 21, Fourth Sunday of Easter

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Acts 13:14, 43-52

Psalm 100:1-3, 5

2) Revelation 7:9, 14b-17

Gospel: John 10:27-30

Whether I'm at my office desk, at home or on the move, I'm usually close to a phone. And thanks to the invention of caller ID, I can always tell who the caller is before I answer. So if I don't recognize the number or name on display, I can choose to ignore the call.

It wasn't always that way. Prior to caller ID, I'd answer the phone whenever it rang without the benefit of foreknowledge. Most of the time, I'd recognize a familiar voice on the line and respond appropriately. Sometimes, however, it was a telemarketer or an unfamiliar caller, and I figured out pretty quickly that we would not be having an extended conversation.

Jesus uses the image of the shepherd and sheep in today's Gospel to describe his relationship with his followers, for he leads and protects the sheep that the Father has entrusted to him.

In the Middle East during the first century, shepherds usually were responsible for large flocks and often shared grazing land with other flocks -- so when it was time to collect one's sheep, each shepherd was able to sort them out of the larger herd by the sound of his voice. Even if shepherds were to exchange clothing, it was the distinctive voice, not the shepherd's scent or appearance that identified him to his flock.

The readings of the Easter season focus on the risen Lord calling, forming and shepherding his people, the church -- not only at its beginning, but throughout history to the end of time. Thus the first reading relates how the gentiles responded favorably to Paul and Barnabas because they recognized through their preaching the authentic "word of the Lord."

The psalm, sung in the present tense, reminds us that the Lord's faithfulness to his flock extends "to all generations." The second reading features John's glorious vision of Jesus, both shepherd and lamb, who will lead us to "life-giving water" for all eternity.

There are many voices clamoring for attention in our lives, some important, some frivolous and all of them capable of drowning out the voice of the Lord. But there is only one shepherd, and his voice is the one that matters most.


Have you ever been tempted to follow the voice of another shepherd? What most helps you to learn and follow the distinctive voice of Jesus the shepherd?


"My sheep know my voice; I know them, and they follow me." -- John 10:27


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