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Fourth Sunday of Easter – April 21, 2024 – 9:30am

The Common Thread

“Who you gonna call?” goes the line from the movie “Ghostbusters” theme song. That is silly stuff but the question is nevertheless a serious one. We are able to successfully call upon no other name than Jesus when it comes to being saved from eternal damnation and death. Even when we walk through that death’s valley, we who believe in that Name, have no need to fear. Even when our heart condemns us—usually because the law is accusing us of sins—we have confidence before God, and peace. Why” Because we keep the greatest commandment: that we believe in him who laid down his life for us. Who else would you call?

First Reading – Acts 4:1-12

Things can and should point back to Jesus. Peter turned the healing of a crippled man into an opportunity to proclaim Christ. Accused of disorder and arrested, Peter’s subsequent trial became a prophetic testimony prompted by the Holy Spirit. The point of the proceedings became salvation in Christ alone instead of why and how a man was healed. We also have the authority and the imperative to bring all things back around to Jesus.

Psalm – Psalm 23:1-6

Courtroom trials and private conscience are nothing against the grace of God. The needs of life and the threat of death are easily comforted by the God who cares for his people. Though these blessings from God do not always come at once, they surely do arrive at the right time and in good measure. 

Second Reading – 1 John 3:16-24

There are things we should be doing, like looking after the needs of the Body of Christ and feeding the poor. We fail in these duties sometimes and feel guilty — as we should. That feeling can motivate us toward putting our faith into action, but it should not cause us to feel condemned. God’s grace is greater than our feelings. We may have absolute confidence before God even when we neglect our duty. Though we sometimes fail to keep his commands, we do not fail him altogether. We try harder, but more importantly, we continue to believe in spite of ourselves. For we do not believe in our good works or our bad ones, but in God’s Son Jesus Christ. It is not enough to love your neighbor as yourself — you must keep loving God. When you sense the law accusing you, remember the first two commandments: Keep loving the Lord and then try again to love your neighbor, even if it means laying down your life for her.

Gospel – John 10:11-18

We must learn to sacrifice for others simply because Jesus did so for us. He laid down his life for us, for his sheep. This is why we call him the Good Shepherd. Shepherds are known to drive off or kill lions and bears that threaten their sheep (1 Samuel 17:36), but they do not purposely sacrifice their lives for those sheep. Jesus voluntarily gave his life for his flock, in obedience to his Father’s will.