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Sunday’s Readings: Truth and Action

4 Easter, Year B, April 21

Acts 4:5-12Ps. 231 John 3:16-24John 10:11-18

You will recall that after the risen Lord Jesus appeared by the Sea of Tiberius and stood among several of his disciples, as in other accounts, he seems not to be immediately recognized. “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberius; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples” (John 21:1-2). It’s an auspicious group of men, one of whom is not a mere man but the Son of Almighty God, risen from the grave. Simon, however, is not interested in the miracle standing before him. Instead, he says, “I am going fishing.” That is, Simon returns to his old job, and the other disciples join him.

The risen Lord revealed himself by instructing the disciples, who caught nothing throughout the night, to cast the net to the right side of the boat. Drawing up a great catch, the disciple whom Jesus loved, John, believed it was the Lord, and Simon, for his part, leapt into the water to approach Jesus. Still, Simon’s earlier decision is important as it answers the question “What am I doing to do?” “I am going fishing.” In some way, we all face this question. How are we to live our lives?

Today, we draw our attention to our need for direction, how Christ guides us, and the cost to him and to us. Jesus is “the good shepherd of [his] people.” We hear him as he calls us each by name and leads us “along right pathways” suitable to our vocation and station in life. He leads among green pastures and still waters, revives our souls, and is prodigious in pouring our consolations. There is the hard part, too. The right pathway will, at times and seasons, traverse “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4). Even amid trials, love will drive out fear, his staff will support us, and his rod will protect us. Jesus will set a table for us, anoint us, give us food for the journey, and a cup of sustenance until, at the last, we “dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Ps. 23:6).

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). This is an example for us all. “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16). Every Christian, according to ability and as appropriate to the context, is summoned to care for those in need. These acts may be small or great, but they are essential. We cannot truly love God unless we love others “in truth and in action” (1 John 3:18).

Can we be more precise? What is God asking of a particular person? What offering is required? A careful and honest assessment of one’s obligations will often make this sufficiently clear. Within the sphere of one’s influence and among duties, especially obligations of love sealed by vows or commitments that are an extension of those vows — husbands and wives to each other, parents to children, grown children to their parents, employees to their employers, employers to their staff, teachers to students, doctors to patients. These obligations fill our days and are more than enough to indicate right pathways. Be honest. See your bounden duty. Do it with a joyful heart, and do it to the end.

Look It Up: Psalm 23

Think About It: Walking along still waters will calm and refresh your soul.


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