Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings


Fourth Sunday of Easter; Cycle B

April 21, 2024

Please read the selections given from Sacred Scripture first before reading this meditation.

Readings: Acts of the Apostles 4.8-12; 1st John 3.1-2; John 10.11-18

The First Reading makes us face the continual opposition to the mystery of Christ Jesus.  We stand with Peter before the leaders of Jerusalem in full assembly where the accused Peter stands trial, a man without any standing of prestige in the community.  Amazingly, not only does he speak to the power of this community, but his message is also for the whole human race.  The salutation is to leaders of the people and elders.  The content of the message, however, is to all peoples, everywhere and for all times.  It is the universal, catholic proclamation.  There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.

Remember, too, that we enter the silence of quiet prayer only by the power of that Name, Jesus.  Our prayer is the response in faith of Peter, the Universal Pastor of the Church and of the Apostles as they witness to Jesus. 

And who is this Jesus whom we accept into our hearts?  He is the absolutely unique Savior of the world; he is the crucified Lord; he is risen from the dead.  At the heart of our prayer is profound consciousness of our salvation in the name of
Jesus.  At the center of our souls is Jesus who holds us in creation and redemption.  No other name is given for salvation, indeed for our very being in creation.

The Second Reading brings us back into the hiddenness of the contemplative life. 
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. 

We live in that unknowing aspect of our faith—only on the last day will it all be revealed.  Within our hearts we hold the reality of our adoption as the children of God in the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Risen Jesus in this unknowing—not yet revealed.  The world cannot measure this reality nor hold it by its usual methods of knowing and judgment.  Our contemplative prayer cannot be measured, therefore, by the standards of the world’s definition of success and relevancy.

Yet as we live our life of simple love in the obscure light of faith, the Holy Spirit communicates a taste of the Reality of the Kingdom.  In the unknowing there is knowing because faith is a light to our understanding.  Love, poured forth by the Holy Spirit, is itself an understanding:

  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (Second Reading).

The Gospel Reading speaks to us of the Christian interior life.  Grace, as the seed of eternal life, brings us into a knowing love-communion with the Holy Trinity.  The Good Shepherd gathers us through the communion of the Church into the communion of the Holy Trinity:

  I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I will lay down my life for the sheep.

It is in the sheepfold of the Church that we are gathered into the Eucharist, the Sacramental reenactment of Christ’s laying down his life for us, his sheep.  The Eucharist is the source of our sharing in the divine life of love and knowing in the light.

We must not fear the world's opposition and rejection of the mystery of Christ.  We must not doubt that being within the Church we are relevant and we contribute to the history of humanity.  Jesus our hope of glory is within us.  Jesus is the power that saves the world just as He is the Word by whom the world was created. 

This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.  I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.  This command I have received from my Father.

Whether we are in prayer or we are engaged in the visible work of witness and service for Christ, we are in Christ’s resurrected power redeeming the world.  The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament and summary of that sharing in the divine life.  Our prayer and our deep life of communion depend on the prayer and example of Mary, the Mother of God, the Immaculate Heart.

--William Fredrickson, (OblSB; D.Min.)