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Fourth Sunday of Easter (C)

"I give eternal life to the sheep that belong to me"

The Word This Week

This is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd” Sunday, and is part of the continuing journey of Easter – remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who both gives his life for his sheep and takes it up again. His relationship with us, after the resurrection, is closer than we can imagine: through his dying and rising, Jesus fulfils the promise he makes in today’s Gospel: “I give them eternal life, and they will never be lost.” This Sunday is another opportunity for us to consider the consequences of the Resurrection – how we live the Easter Story.



Notes for Readers

First Reading: Acts 13:14.43-52

The flock of Christ is made up of those who have heard the Word and responded to it – and especially those who are born into Christ through Baptism. In our weekly reading of the Acts of the Apostles, we are following the story of the first growth of the “flock”. Today we meet the characters of Paul and Barnabas, and hear one example of how the preached the Good News. Don’t be put off by the list of unusual place names at the beginning – just read them as written. This, again, is a story: narrative passages are much easier to read, but you must be careful not to let it become flat and uninteresting: note in your mind (as you prepare the reading) which are the “high points” of the story – for example, the point where “… Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly…” or “all who were destined for eternal life became believers.” Try to think of how people will react to the story, and let your reading of it deepen the impact of this passage.

Second Reading: Apocalypse 7:9.14-17
As a link between the first reading and the Gospel you could not really get better than this! We continue to read Saint John’s vision, and first of all see the “…huge number, impossible to count…”, which should remind us of the work of Paul and Barnabas in the first reading. The white robes that they wear can remind us of Baptism, where we enter this “huge crowd”. Then, at the end, we are introduced to the idea that the Lamb is also the Shepherd – a wonderful paradox of Easter!

It would be good for a reader to enjoy this reading: it is a powerful, positive message of reassurance (remember that John is sharing his first with a persecuted Church), and is filled with joyful images of Easter glory. Make sure that your tone is excited and enthusiastic – also remember that you are offering these words of hope and reassurance to the congregation in front of you.




Click on the link to get this Sunday Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.