Season of Easter (b)

World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the

Priesthood and Religious Life.

Sunday 29thApril:                  4th Sunday of Easter (b).

Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday.  We pray especially that God will give the Church men and women formed in the image of the Good Shepherd who will be priests and religious of the future.

The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.  We hear how Paul and Barnabas preach the Gospel firstly to the Jews but they reject it.  They move on to the Gentiles inAntiochwhere their message is welcomed with great joy.

The second reading is from the Book of Revelation.  It contains another part ofSt. John’svision of a people persecuted for their faith being rewarded with a share of Christ’s glory in heaven.

In the Gospel, from St. John, we are reminded that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will not allow anyone to snatch from his care the sheep the Father has entrusted to him.

Monday 30th April:                4th Monday of Easter.

          From its earliest beginnings, there was a conflict or tension among some Christians, who believed that a pagan convert had first to become a Jew before becoming a Christian.  They criticise Peter but he has the answer ready for them.  All of God’s creation is good and of value.

The Gospel again presents us with the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  He knows his sheep and they know his voice.  He is the gate of the sheepfold.

Tuesday 1st May:                              4th Tuesday of Easter.

 The scattering after Stephen’s martyrdom led the apostles to different parts of the Greek world where they began to convert pagans.  It is atAntioch that the word Christian is used for the first time.  It is constantly stressed that all this work is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Shepherd and Sheep relation is used again by Jesus to further the relationship that should exist between Jesus and his people.

Wednesday 2nd May:              Memorial of St. Athanasius.

          Athanasius was born in 297 at Alexandria.  He lived during very troubled times, both politically and within the Church.  He was secretary to the local Bishop when he attended the Council of Nicaea, from which we get the Nicene Creed.  This Council condemned the priest Arius who was teaching that Jesus was not divine.  After he became Bishop, many of Arius’ followers caused a great deal of trouble.  The political leaders were inconsistent in whom they supported –sometimes Athanasius, at other times his opponents.  He was banished five times from the city and lived for seventeen years in exile.  He died in 373.

Thursday 3rd May:                 Feast of St. Philip and St. James.

Philip was a follower of John the Baptist but accepted Christ’s call immediately.  He persuaded his friend, Nathaniel, to come and see Jesus for himself.  He is named among those present at the coming of the Holy Spirit.

James, the Less or Younger, was present at the Council of Jerusalem where it was decided that Gentile converts need not become Jewish as well.  A Letter in the New Testament is attributed to him.

Both were martyred as a result of their preaching the Gospel.

Friday 4th May:                     4th Friday of Easter.

Paul continues his sermon.  The people of Jerusalemhad not recognised Jesus as the promised Saviour and they crucified him.  God raised him from the dead.  This is the Good News.

Jesus promises to look after his faithful followers even though they will not see him.  He consoles and comforts them as he prepared for his passion.

Saturday 5th May:                4th Saturday of Easter.

Many Jews became Christians as a result of Paul’s sermon.  Others tried to turn the crowds against him.  He spoke to the pagans but eventually had to leave because of the rejection by the Jews.

Jesus is the way because he shares his life with the Father and with us.  He knows what to ask the Father because he prays out of a life lived in a communion of faith and love with Jesus. 

Alleluia, alleluia

He is risen as he said