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Easter 4th Week, Tuesday, May 5th

Acts 11:19-26 / John 10:22-30 
Jesus speaks about discipleship: “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.”

Two shepherds were separating their flocks after their sheep had shared the same pen for the night. The first shepherd called, “Manah” (Arabic for “Follow me”). At once his sheep came to him. The second shepherd did the same with the same results. A visitor, familiar with Jesus’ words in today’s gospel and interested in testing them, put on the outer cloak and turban of the first shepherd and called, “Manah!" The sheep didn’t budge. “Will your flock ever follow someone other than you?” asked the visitor. “Yes,” said the shepherd. “Sometimes a sheep gets sick and will follow anyone.”
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How carefully do we listen to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd—and follow him faithfully in all situations? “The Lord is my shepherd. ... He guides me in right paths.” Psalm 23:1,3
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During this season of Easter, one of the necessary reflections that we must make is to think about what being a Christian is all about. The word Christian means "being anointed" or the "anointed ones". So, what are we anointed for, and what should we do as Christians? In short, we are to proclaim the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is THE Anointed One.

A quick glance through the Acts of the Apostles will give us a picture of how this Good News was proclaimed. The Good News was proclaimed with the mighty acts of the power of God. These were manifested in the healing of the sick and driving out evil spirits and forgiveness and conversion.

Essentially it is the Good News of salvation, the Good News of God's love for humanity. As we heard in the 1st reading, the people associated these acts of the disciples with Christ and hence they were called Christians.

In the gospel, we hear of the people asking Jesus this question - If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. As for us, we need not tell people that we are Christians. By what we do, they would know we are Christians. They will know we are the anointed ones of God by our acts of love.
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Tuesday of 4th Week of Easter   - LITURGY
A NEW MISSIONARY APPROACH   

Introduction   
The Christians of Antioch, the first to be called “Christians” as disciples of Christ, were of two kinds: those Greek-speaking of Jewish origin, who had fled to Antioch from the persecuted Church in Jerusalem. They communicated their faith to their fellow Jews, but they must have spoken of their faith in Christ also to some people of pagan roots who accepted Christ, now no longer as the promised Messiah but as the Lord of all. This placed the Church in a dilemma. Were these marginal Christians only second-class followers of Christ? Barnabas, filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized God’s grace at work in them. Where the official Church of Jerusalem hesitates, Barnabas reads the signs of the times. To him, it is God’s will that these people accept Christ as their Lord. He faces and solves the missionary problems locally and is not afraid to go new ways.  

Penitential Rite
-The early Christians saw the hand of the Lord in their ministry, when we rely on our abilities, LHM
-The early Christians saw the grace of God in the ministry of others and rejoiced, when we are jealous of others’ ministry, CHM
-The early Christians encouraged each other to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, when we don't support and challenge others in their fidelity to the Lord, LHM 

Opening Prayer  
Lord God, our Father, the Spirit of Jesus calls us, as he called your Son, to abandon our old selves and our old world to be free for new life and growth.  Forgive us our fear and hesitations, lead us out of our worn-out phrases and habits, and our self-made certainties, steep us in the Gospel of your Son, that his Good News may become credible in our times and our world.  We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.

Commentary   
With the growing number of Gentile converts entering the church, the break with traditional Judaism became more pronounced. Gradually the center of the church’s life shifted from Jerusalem to Antioch. It was there that the so-called followers of the Way first became known as Christians.  This is a title that all of us carry with pride, but it is worth our effort to explore briefly its connotation. It was only when Christianity became fragmented that we adopted denominational names. Catholic may be fine, but it says far less than Christian. In our baptism we are united with Christ; our religious education centers on his teaching. Every milestone in our life—graduation, marriage, ordination—is laden with Christian meaning. It is in Christ that our final destiny is assured.  The opponents of Jesus in today’s Gospel want him to state clearly whether or not he is the Messiah. There were reasons why Jesus did not so proclaim himself, one of which was the heavy political baggage that the term had acquired. Once again Jesus appeals to his works, which give clear indication of his position. But only faith will bring about acceptance. His disciples adhere to him as the Good Shepherd, with a faith that gives full assurance.  The tide “Christian” is the noblest that we shall ever bear. It is not of our making or choice. It is part of the gift that God gives us. One of my relatives named a son “Christian” but always insisted that his name not be abbreviated to Chris or any other shortened form. Christian is a man today and still carries the name with pride. The same should be said of all of us.    

Points to Ponder   
Antioch, an early Christian center 
The title “Christian” 
The separation from Judaism 
Hearing the voice of the shepherd   

Intercessions   
Let us pray today for the missionary Church and say: Lord, hear our prayer. 
– That the Church may never tire of preaching Christ as the Risen Lord, we pray:
 – That the Church may never tire of asking the Lord to make it ever new and to be attentive to the signs of the times, we pray:  – That Christians may live in such a way that their life of faith attracts people to Christ, we pray:   

Prayer over the Gifts   
Loving Father, the bread and the wine on this table speak to us of a journey into the future to go together with your Son.  Change us as you change these gifts, and transform us into the image of your Son. Make us into people who dare to stand up to speak your message without fear in the language our times understand, people who have the courage to go new ways when demanded, yet always loyal to your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord forever.   

Prayer after Communion   
Loving Father, we are glad that we are called Christians, men and women who follow Christ, your Son.  May we remain faithful to him with a steadfast commitment and fill us with the grace of the Lord, that the Holy Spirit may live in us and that we too may bring many to the Lord and be worthy of the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.    

Blessing   

May the grace of God be at work in us to keep us faithful with steadfast commitment, that we may be true disciples of Christ. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.