Liturgy of the Sunday

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Fourth Sunday of Easter
Remembrance of the Virgin Mary, venerated as Our Lady of Lujàn in Argentina. Memorial of the blessed martyrs of Algeria. Among them we remember Father Christian de Chergé, the prior of the trappiest monastery of Notre Dame de l'Atlas, in Tibhirine in Algeria; he was kidnapped and killed with six of his confreres by terrorists in 1996.


First Reading

Acts 13,14.43-52

The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the Sabbath and took their seats. When the meeting broke up many Jews and devout converts followed Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them. The next Sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, filled with jealousy, used blasphemies to contradict everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out fearlessly. 'We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, here and now we turn to the gentiles. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said: I have made you a light to the nations, so that my salvation may reach the remotest parts of the earth.' It made the gentiles very happy to hear this and they gave thanks to the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside. But the Jews worked on some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city; they stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went off to Iconium; but the converts were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Psalmody

Psalm 99

Antiphon

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness
Come before him, singing for joy.

Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him
we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Go within his gates, giving thanks
Enter his courts with songs of praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name.

Indeed, how good is the Lord
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age.

Second Reading

Revelation 7,9.14-17

After that I saw that there was a huge number, impossible for anyone 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. They shouted in a loud voice, I answered him, 'You can tell me, sir.' Then he said, 'These are the people who have been through the great trial; they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are standing in front of God's throne and serving 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; sun and scorching wind will never plague them, because the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne will be their shepherd and will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.'

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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 my hand. The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

What happened in Antioch is an admonition for every single believer, for every ecclesial community, and why not, even for that individualistic and self-referential mentality that is increasingly impending. Believing that we already know the Lord and possess him, thus blocking the continual call to conversion of heart that every day invites us to go beyond our boundaries, is to contradict the Gospel and, at bottom, to blaspheme it. A life of following Jesus and his Gospel cannot be reduced to the safety of belonging or the tranquil acquisition of an ancient predilection. Following Jesus requires the effort of listening and a sense of urgency to change our heart. In the Gospel, Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me" (Jn 10:27-30). Being faithful to the Lord means listening to his voice and following him every day, wherever he leads us. It is the exact contrary of sitting lazily and proudly in the synagogue of Antioch. To all those who listen and to all those who follow Jesus (the only way to follow him is to listen to him while he speaks and walks along the ways of the world) promises eternal life. None of his sheep will be lost, Jesus says with the confidence of someone who knows that he has a greater power than death. And he adds, "No one will snatch them out of the Father's hand." He is a good shepherd who is strong and jealously guards his sheep. The lives of those who listen to him are in the hands of God, hands that never forget and always know how to sustain.
The Book of Revelation represents the opposite of what happened to the Jews in Antioch; the proclamation of the Gospel broke the narrow borders of those religious people and was projected towards the vast world of men and women. The Gospel widens the heart of every believer, because it tears out the bitter root of violent and selfish individualism. At the heart of each single member of the "multitude" spoken of in Revelation, (those who are animated by the Spirit are part of it without knowing) there is the universal breath that sustains the Good Shepherd's very heart. This Sunday the Church invites us to pray for priests and their pastoral ministry. We all take part in this prayer, knowing that everyone, especially priests, should live inspired by the breath of universal charity that characterizes the Christian Gospel.