The Bishops Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter 2017

4th Sunday Of Easter
(Good Shepherd Sunday)
Acts 2: 14a; 36-41
I Pet. 2:20-25
John 10:1-10

INTRODUCTION: On this Good Shepherd Sunday, the first Reading is from Acts which tells the story of a band of brothers and sisters so excited of being Jesus’ followers who went to so many parts of the world, planting the seed of the faith and going to their death in the process. The passage is one of Peter’s great sermons — a good example of great kerygmatic preaching!

(1) “Peter stood up with the eleven” (“Tumayo si Pedro at ang labing-isang apostol”) — All legitimate Christian preaching is always apostolic, meaning rooted on the Apostles, the first intimate followers of Jesus. Bishops are called in the Catechism “successors of the Apostles.” Every priest and deacon gets his authority to minister from a bishop. The Church wants to assure by this that what a priest preaches and does is rooted in one who knew Jesus personally.

(2) “Let the whole Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” (“Dapat malaman ng buong Israel na itong si Hesus na ipinako ninyo sa Krus – Siya ang ginawa ng Diyos na Panginoon at Kristo.”) Note the strength and confidence in the preacher’s statement! A good preaching exudes certainty of one’s conviction. Peter calls Jesus “Xristos” or “messiah” meaning anointed as David, thus a new David, the fulfillment of the expectations of Israel. Good preaching always refers to Israel, deeply biblical, grounded in the expectations of Israel. Peter also calls Jesus as “Kyrios” or Lord which has a Jewish meaning Adonai or Jahweh, God but has also a Roman connotation because Caesar the Emperor was called Lord. This statement is so edgy and revolutionary because he meant Jesus is the Lord, not Caesar. Peter is not tickling the ears of his audience. He names the sinful reaction of his audience to Jesus’ Lordship. That is why his audience were “cut to the heart.” (“nabagabag ang kanilang kalooban.”) Good preaching cuts to the heart, not abstract moralizing. So now they ask “What are we to do?” (“Anong gagawin namin?”) He answers “Repent! Be baptized! Save yourselves from this perverse generation.” (Pagsisihan ninyo’t talikdan ang inyong mga kasalanan at magpabinyag kayo sa pangalan ni Hesukristo upang kayo’y patawarin…Lumayo kayo sa masamang lahing ito upang kayo’y maligtas.”) Good preaching always calls to conversion and contrition. Finally, “about 3000 were added to their number.” (at nadagdag sa kanila ang may tatlung libong tao.) Without being obsessed at numbers, good preaching is meant to draw people to the Church. When 50% stay away from Church, that is not a good indication of our preaching!

(3) This Sunday is also World Day of Prayer for Vocations. What do we pray today? Not only that there be more priests and Religious sisters and brothers because they don’t have to go job hunting. More than anything else that they become preachers who give really good news, and not their doubts and difficulties, much less make their preaching like talk shows and joke time!

CONCLUSION: Take time to stay with this passage this week and learn a lot about kerygmatic preaching and at the same time what makes us Christians!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches