|Second Sunday after Easter|
he First Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle, ii. 21-25. Dearly Beloved: Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. Who, when He was reviled, did not revile: when He suffered He threatened not: but delivered Himself to him that judged Him unjustly: who His own self bore our sins in His body upon the tree: that we being dead to sins, should live to justice: by Whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray, but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls.
From the example of Christ we should learn to bear in patience crosses, adversities, and even unjust persecutions. How otherwise could we be true sheep of this Good Shepherd, if at the least suffering, at the scoffs and mockeries which men cast at us, we should become angry and revengeful, and seek to retaliate with the like?
O Lord, grant me grace to follow Thee, my shepherd, not to revile and threaten when I am reviled, calumniated, or persecuted for justice' sake, but for love of Thee to suffer all with patience.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. John, x. 11-16. At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know Mine, and Mine know Me. As the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.
How does Christ show that He is the good shepherd?
By taking all pains to seek, to find, and to bring back to the right way the lost sheep - that is, the sinner; finally, that He offers up His life for His flock, and gives Himself to be their food, and a pledge of eternal life (I. John v. 10; Rom. v. 8).
How do we know the sheep of Christ?
By their hearing and following the voice of Christ. By their willingly receiving and striving to fulfil His teachings. By their obeying the Church and her ministers, for whoever hears her, hears God Himself, and, as St. Augustine says, he who will not have the Church for his mother cannot have God for his Father. By their receiving, often and gladly, the food of the Good Shepherd - the holy communion. By being patient and meek, forgiving their enemies readily and willingly. By loving their fellow-men, and by seeking to bring into the one fold those who are out of it.