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The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Gospel, First Reading & Psalm


Second Reading


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GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

The Fourth Sunday of Easter in Year B is focused on Jesus, the good shepherd. This is a theme that the church highlights every year during the Easter season. And, as I pointed out before but I’ll point it out again, although it's the year of the Gospel of Mark, we’re going to have a gospel reading today from the Gospel of John 10, the famous good shepherd discourse. And, then we’ll go back and we’ll look at the Acts of the Apostles and the spread of the good news through the early church in the early years of Christianity. So let's begin with John 10:11-18, this is the gospel reading for today. Jesus said:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."

Alright, so let's stop there. This speech of Jesus where he's talking about himself as the good shepherd is one of the many speeches that Jesus gives while he's in the temple in Jerusalem, and that's a distinctive aspect of John's gospel. Whereas the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tend to focus on Jesus’ teaching in the northern part of the holy land in Galilee, John not exclusively but primarily focuses on Jesus's discourses in the southern part of the holy land in Judea,  especially while he's in Jerusalem and in the temple. And, one of the things Jesus does when he's in the temple is he will speak in parables, but not the same kind of short, pithy parables that you might recall from say the Gospel of Mark or Matthew when Jesus is in Galilee, he’ll do these longer parables that we might even call allegories, where he compares himself with some aspect of life or culture in the First Century A.D., in this case comparing himself with shepherding and with the herding of sheep.

So a couple of elements here are important to highlight. Number one, when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd,” he is not just drawing a comparison between himself and a good shepherd, a shepherd who might willingly die or give his life to protect the sheep that belong to him, he’s also drawing a contrast between himself and wicked shepherds, which are described in the book of Ezekiel 34...

SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

So when Christ comes, we will be made like Him, and we will also see Him as He is. Now that image there is something very, very powerful. And it’s something that, if you think about it, is a bit of an echo of the Gospel here. If you go back to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there’s one episode in which the apostles get a glimpse of the glory. And you get the sense that they see Jesus not just in His human nature but in His divine glory and power. And it’s the episode of the Transfiguration.

So in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus ascends the mountain and His face becomes dazzling white. His garments are white. And the apostles — James and Peter and John — are awestruck by the glory that’s unveiled in the Transfiguration of Jesus. They don’t just see Jesus in His humanity. They see Him in His divine power and glory and majesty. They see Him as He is in the fullness of that truth for that mystery.

And so John here — I can’t help but wonder, if when He talks about seeing Him as He is, if He is also echoing that manifestation of Christ during His public ministry as fully human, but also in the glory of the Transfiguration. And I say that because if you go back to the beginning of the letter, right at the beginning of 1 John, listen to what it says:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

You get the sense from the opening verses that John and the apostles — the “we,” that authoritative “we” — have seen something which the people to whom he’s writing haven’t seen. And in fact, if you go back to the beginning of the Gospel of John, it actually says in chapter 1, verse 14:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

So some interpreters have actually argued that both of those references — “we have beheld his glory” and this opening line of the letter about seeing with our own eyes that which is from the beginning (in other words, not just as human nature but His divine glory that was from the beginning) — that both of those are allusions to the Transfiguration, which John and Peter and James are the sole witnesses to in the Gospel.

So if that’s correct, when John says then that all of us are children of God (those are in Christ) but when Christ appears in glory at the parousia, we all shall see Him as He is. He’s revealing to them that in a certain sense, the Transfiguration on the mountain, which was beheld only by Peter, James, and John, is a foretaste — or better, a glimpse for sight, an anticipatory vision — of what everyone will see at the parousia...Christ coming not just in fullness of humanity but in fullness of the glory of His divinity.

And that image of seeing is something that John uses in the Johannine literature to describe eternal life. So when you think about eternal life, if you imagine the glories of the Resurrection, what aspect of the Resurrection and of eternal life is for you is the heart of it? What attracts you to it the most? What do you most anticipate? Well, if you look at the letters, the Gospel, and the Apocalypse of John (the last book of the New Testament), the theme that runs through all of them is the theme of vision. It’s the vision of God that we most long for. It’s the vision of God that’s the consummation and the climax of eternal life. And you can see this in — if you just turn to Revelation 22. How does John describe eternal life?

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city….

And you skip down to verse 3, he says:

There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face…

That vision of the unveiled face and the glory of God is commonly known as the Beatific Vision, the happy vision of the blessed in Heaven. And that’s what John is describing here — that right now we’re His children. That’s already realized. But we aren’t yet perfectly like unto Him, and we don’t yet see Him as He is. So there’s the hope of our being configured to Christ, and then there’s faith, the trust — and these overlap, obviously — in things that we can’t yet see. We believe that we will see Him one day as He is, face to face. And that hope and that faith, that trust that vision will one day come to pass, is of course the foundation. This text is the foundation for the doctrine — the Church’s doctrine of the Beatific Vision.

For full access subscribe here >

 

Gospel, First Reading & Psalm


Second Reading


***Subscribe or Login for Full Access.***

GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

The Fourth Sunday of Easter in Year B is focused on Jesus, the good shepherd. This is a theme that the church highlights every year during the Easter season. And, as I pointed out before but I’ll point it out again, although it's the year of the Gospel of Mark, we’re going to have a gospel reading today from the Gospel of John 10, the famous good shepherd discourse. And, then we’ll go back and we’ll look at the Acts of the Apostles and the spread of the good news through the early church in the early years of Christianity. So let's begin with John 10:11-18, this is the gospel reading for today. Jesus said:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."

Alright, so let's stop there. This speech of Jesus where he's talking about himself as the good shepherd is one of the many speeches that Jesus gives while he's in the temple in Jerusalem, and that's a distinctive aspect of John's gospel. Whereas the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tend to focus on Jesus’ teaching in the northern part of the holy land in Galilee, John not exclusively but primarily focuses on Jesus's discourses in the southern part of the holy land in Judea,  especially while he's in Jerusalem and in the temple. And, one of the things Jesus does when he's in the temple is he will speak in parables, but not the same kind of short, pithy parables that you might recall from say the Gospel of Mark or Matthew when Jesus is in Galilee, he’ll do these longer parables that we might even call allegories, where he compares himself with some aspect of life or culture in the First Century A.D., in this case comparing himself with shepherding and with the herding of sheep.

So a couple of elements here are important to highlight. Number one, when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd,” he is not just drawing a comparison between himself and a good shepherd, a shepherd who might willingly die or give his life to protect the sheep that belong to him, he’s also drawing a contrast between himself and wicked shepherds, which are described in the book of Ezekiel 34...

SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

So when Christ comes, we will be made like Him, and we will also see Him as He is. Now that image there is something very, very powerful. And it’s something that, if you think about it, is a bit of an echo of the Gospel here. If you go back to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there’s one episode in which the apostles get a glimpse of the glory. And you get the sense that they see Jesus not just in His human nature but in His divine glory and power. And it’s the episode of the Transfiguration.

So in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus ascends the mountain and His face becomes dazzling white. His garments are white. And the apostles — James and Peter and John — are awestruck by the glory that’s unveiled in the Transfiguration of Jesus. They don’t just see Jesus in His humanity. They see Him in His divine power and glory and majesty. They see Him as He is in the fullness of that truth for that mystery.

And so John here — I can’t help but wonder, if when He talks about seeing Him as He is, if He is also echoing that manifestation of Christ during His public ministry as fully human, but also in the glory of the Transfiguration. And I say that because if you go back to the beginning of the letter, right at the beginning of 1 John, listen to what it says:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete.

You get the sense from the opening verses that John and the apostles — the “we,” that authoritative “we” — have seen something which the people to whom he’s writing haven’t seen. And in fact, if you go back to the beginning of the Gospel of John, it actually says in chapter 1, verse 14:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

So some interpreters have actually argued that both of those references — “we have beheld his glory” and this opening line of the letter about seeing with our own eyes that which is from the beginning (in other words, not just as human nature but His divine glory that was from the beginning) — that both of those are allusions to the Transfiguration, which John and Peter and James are the sole witnesses to in the Gospel.

So if that’s correct, when John says then that all of us are children of God (those are in Christ) but when Christ appears in glory at the parousia, we all shall see Him as He is. He’s revealing to them that in a certain sense, the Transfiguration on the mountain, which was beheld only by Peter, James, and John, is a foretaste — or better, a glimpse for sight, an anticipatory vision — of what everyone will see at the parousia...Christ coming not just in fullness of humanity but in fullness of the glory of His divinity.

And that image of seeing is something that John uses in the Johannine literature to describe eternal life. So when you think about eternal life, if you imagine the glories of the Resurrection, what aspect of the Resurrection and of eternal life is for you is the heart of it? What attracts you to it the most? What do you most anticipate? Well, if you look at the letters, the Gospel, and the Apocalypse of John (the last book of the New Testament), the theme that runs through all of them is the theme of vision. It’s the vision of God that we most long for. It’s the vision of God that’s the consummation and the climax of eternal life. And you can see this in — if you just turn to Revelation 22. How does John describe eternal life?

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city….

And you skip down to verse 3, he says:

There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face…

That vision of the unveiled face and the glory of God is commonly known as the Beatific Vision, the happy vision of the blessed in Heaven. And that’s what John is describing here — that right now we’re His children. That’s already realized. But we aren’t yet perfectly like unto Him, and we don’t yet see Him as He is. So there’s the hope of our being configured to Christ, and then there’s faith, the trust — and these overlap, obviously — in things that we can’t yet see. We believe that we will see Him one day as He is, face to face. And that hope and that faith, that trust that vision will one day come to pass, is of course the foundation. This text is the foundation for the doctrine — the Church’s doctrine of the Beatific Vision.

For full access subscribe here >

 

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