Sunday, April 29, is the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year B, Cycle II), Good Shepherd Sunday.
May is dedicated to Mary. Pope Pius XII recommended a practice our family has taken up: a May altar dedicated to Mary. “The Rosary, recited in the family, assembled before the image of the Virgin, is an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work,” wrote Pius XII. “It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace.”
Acts 4:8-12; Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 21, 29; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18
In the movie High Noon, Will Kane (Gary Cooper) turns in his sheriff’s badge and is ready to walk away from Hadleyville with his new wife, Amy (Grace Kelly). He stays in town, though, because he hears that an outlaw has gotten out of jail on a technicality and is coming to town to seek revenge.
The townspeople would rather Kane just leave. In the iconic scene from the movie, the sheriff stands alone in his determination to protect his town — a great image of the Good Shepherd.
“I will lay down my life for my sheep,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel. He is determined to protect his own — whether they want it or not.
In today’s first reading, Peter speaks to the Sanhedrin, who were in the middle of a decades-long project to build the Herodian Temple. When Peter says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” he is referring to today’s Psalm, but also to their building project.
That “Second Temple” was destined to be destroyed in the near future. But the new Church was ready to grow by leaps and bounds at the same time. Christ truly did what he said he would do: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will rebuild it” to become the cornerstone of the Church.
In the movie, Kane, bruised by a fight with the other lawman in town, stood up to the enemy and expelled him; Jesus, wounded by the “lawmen” of his time, not only expelled the enemy, but brought the Temple of the new Church to the world.
The second reading points out the difference between Kane and the Good Shepherd. With Christ, writes St. John, “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
We see Christ in the Eucharist, we meet him in the word of God, we hear from him in confession and the other sacraments, and he teaches us through the Church. But we have to wait to actually meet him face-to-face.
That makes us a little bit like Amy Kane. She planned to leave her husband behind, but eventually changes her outlook in order to join him in his stand against the enemy.
It is the same with us: It is only when we decide to fully love Christ and stand with him, showing that we do so with our actions, that we will really have the relationship with Christ that we long for.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.