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Fourth Sunday of Easter (A)

I am the gate of the sheepfold

The Word This Week

This Sunday is traditionally called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’, because of the Gospel references to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It is also the day of prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood. On this Sunday we hear one of the great ‘I am’ statements of Jesus from Saint John’s Gospel today ‘I am the gate of the sheepfold’.

Through Jesus we enter into life and safety, and we ‘go through Jesus, the gate’ by baptism. This image is implied in all today’s readings: the people listening to Peter find this gateway and enter through it: Peter writes to remind us that we have come back to the Good Shepherd, who heals us by his wounds.

Vocations Sunday

Because each year this Sunday introduces us to Christ as the Good Shepherd, this day is always set aside for special prayer for Vocations, especially to the priesthood. Prayers should be said for vocations today, and a parish may wish to do more to celebrate or reflect on the mystery of God's call to service. Resources for Vocations Sunday are available, (especially on the National Vocations website) and you may wish to look at our own Diocese of Salford Vocations Department website here.


You may wish to include intercessions at Sunday Masses; the following are examples:


Let us pray for vocations to the priesthood in our Diocese of Salford; that the voice of the Spirit may be heard amidst the clamour of our modern world. (pause) Lord, in your mercy …


Let us pray for students for the priesthood; that they may grow in closeness to Christ the Good Shepherd, as they prepare to give themselves in service of God's people. (pause) Lord, in your mercy …

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:14.36-41

This is the conclusion of Peter’s speech last Sunday. To understand the reaction of the crowd today it would be good to read the whole account in Acts 2:14-36. The concluding line of Peter’s speech is important because the two titles ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ’, which we rather take for granted, were very dramatic words to use about a man who had been crucified 50 days previously. Perhaps you could slow down to emphasise them in reading.

Don’t lose the clarity in the second paragraph - be careful with the sentence ‘The promise that was made, /pause/ is for you, and your children, and for all those…’ Read the final line very deliberately: it is still marvellous that so many people turned to the way of Jesus so suddenly: say ‘three thousand’ almost with a sense of awe,


Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:20-25

We hear a lot of Saint Peter in Easter but what wonderful things he has to say! Today is a poetic passage on the meaning of the Passion perhaps you could compare it with the ‘Songs of the Suffering Servant’ in Isaiah (look at the daily readings for Holy Week and the First Reading on Good Friday).

The first sentence is like a proverb: it jumps in rather abruptly, so leave a good pause after announcing the reading, and emphasise the words ‘bearing punishment patiently’ so that the meaning is understood,

The rest of the reading goes on to explain why we should live like this: “[You should bear suffering patiently] because Christ suffered for you”. Mentally underline the phrase ‘He was bearing our faults…’ The last line is very much a ‘here and now’ phrase: ‘You (= the baptised congregation) had gone you (the congregation) have come back (by baptism and its renewal).’


Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.