Reflection: Readings Acts 26:19-23; Ps 116; John 10:11-16


Commentaries on the Readings: Acts 26:19-23; Ps 116; John 10:11-16

Not surprisingly, the Gospel reading is from chapter 10 of John where Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd.  “I AM the Good Shepherd” is one of seven ‘I AM’ statements that Jesus makes about himself in John’s gospel.  There is a divine connotation in the ‘I AM’ which is the name of God as given to Moses when Yahweh spoke to him from the burning bush (“I AM who I AM.”).  In so speaking, Jesus is saying that it is the divine in him which is the source of his being a Good Shepherd.  He then goes on to enumerate some of the qualities of a good shepherd.  First, he is not like a someone who is simply hired to take careofa flock of sheep.  At the first sign of danger, for instance, the approach of a wolf, the hired man takes to his heels.  He thinks only of his own wellbeing.  The wolf then comes and scatters the sheep and probably attacks one to eat it.  This is because the hired man is only “doing a job he is paid for” and has no personal interest in the sheep.

The good shepherd behaves very differently.  To an outsider all sheep look more or less the same but the shepherd who is with his sheep every day knows each and every one of them and they know him, in the same way as Jesus knows his Father and his Father knows him.  And, as a Good Shepherd, Jesus is ready to lay down his life for his sheep – and he will.

The good shepherd, too, is not only concerned about his own sheep.  He is anxious that other sheep should belong to his fold, will listen to his voice so that there will be just one fold and one shepherd. 

Boniface, too, was a very good shepherd.  He travelled far and wide taking care of his sheep.  He worked very hard for other sheep to belong to his fold, the fold of Christ’s Church.  And, like his Master, he eventually gave his life for his sheep.

The First Reading is from near the end of the Acts of the Apostles.  Paul has been arrested and the Jewish leaders want him handed over to them for trial.  But Paul, who was a Roman citizen, appealed to Caesar, that is, that he be tried by a Roman court.  This request was granted by Festus, the local governor.  Soon after this, King Agrippa and his wife Bernice arrived in Caesara where Festus was.  Paul was then invited to present his case in the presence of the king.  In the course of it, he gives for the third time an account of his experience at Damascus and how that changed his life. 

In today’s reading we have the conclusion of Paul’s speech to Agrippa.  First, he says he has only been carrying out the instructions he received on that day at Damascus.  Since then, he says, he has been going to Damascus, Jerusalem and many other places calling on people to change their lives, to turn to God and to show this clearly by the way they behave.  And it is only for this, he claims, that he is being persecuted by the leaders of his people.  He has only been communicating the teaching of Moses and the prophets that “the Messiah must suffer and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles”.  While his opponents would have agreed with him on that, they were not ready to accept that Jesus was the Messiah.

 Again, we see Boniface reflected in this reading.  For he, too, was tireless in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus.  He, too, ran into opposition and eventually, like his Master, would give his life as a martyr.

 

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