4th Sunday of Easter (Year B)

St. Maximilian Kolbe once said: “If angels could be jealous of us, it would be for one reason: Holy Communion”.


First Reading: Acts 4:8-12

  • “Of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.” This is a challenging but crucial passage. Consider how it might change your approach to evangelization.
  • Notice how salvation and health are linked in this passage. As a biblical concept, Salvation runs deeper than transactional forgiveness; it expands to include healing and wholeness.

Psalm: Psalm 117(118):1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28-29

  • This psalm of joyful thanksgiving praises God for having answered prayer. In the context of this liturgy, it takes up the joy of seeing a person healed and praises God for answering that prayer but also (in light of the point above) praises him for what that healing symbolizes: the full healing of salvation in Christ. We can then take this psalm on our lips as thanksgiving for the risen Lord.
  • How often do we pause to give thanks to God for answered prayer or for what he does in our lives? How might we deepen our gratitude?

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2

  • John warns that just as the world did not acknowledge or recognize Jesus, it likewise won’t his disciples. There is a constant tension in the life of a follower of Jesus: to be part of and in the world, including its structures (economic, societal, cultural), but also to be a sign of contradiction, a challenge, and a beacon of light. Is this true in your life?
  • Notice how John tells us that we are children of God now, but there is a fullness we are yet to realise or experience. In the context of pondering the lavishness of the Father’s love, this only highlights abundance upon abundance! With all that God has already given us, there is yet more to come.

Gospel: John 10:11-18

  • Read this passage alongside the first reading from Acts. In Acts, we’re told that God [the Father] raised Jesus from the dead; in John, Jesus says that he has the power to take up his life again. Jesus and the Father are distinct persons (Jesus also makes that clear in today’s gospel; he speaks of the Father and himself distinctly), yet they are both responsible for the resurrection. We can begin to see here the early working out of our understanding of the Trinity, which we profess each week in the creed and when we make the sign of the cross. What difference does God as Trinity make in your life? What difference does it make to your prayer life?
  • Jesus, as the good shepherd, is a very familiar image; it speaks to us of safety, compassion, and warmth. As Jesus makes clear in this passage, it also speaks of dedicated service and selfless devotion. The good shepherd nourishes his sheep and defends them against the wolf at the expense of his own life, giving a fuller, rounder picture of Jesus. In what ways do both aspects of the shepherd image help us relate to Jesus?


The first letter of John is an amazing part of the New Testament. It’s short, but it’s incredibly dense and rich. If the synoptic gospels are like fine red wine, the first letter of John is like a glass of vintage port. It’s concentrated and packs a punch.

The passage begins with a reminder of God’s love for us, but not in general or vague terms. The Father calls us his children; that is how we know he loves us. God’s love is not just mercy, forgiveness, or transactional. The kind of love we are talking about here forges bonds and creates relationships.

More than that, though, it gives us a glimpse into the desires and purposes of God. If we look through the Scriptures, we find many occasions when ‘children’ or ‘sons’ of God show up. Most importantly, of course, we have the Son of God himself. But we also have those spiritual beings, those angels which we confess every Sunday when we acknowledge God to be “maker of all things visible and invisible.” Scripture constantly refers to these beings as sons of God; think of the opening to the Book of Job as just one example: “there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD” (Job 1:6).

Think of the love the Father has lavished on us, though, because our destiny is even higher than theirs! Paul tells us that we should be aware that we stand over these angelic beings, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3).

We have a greater dignity because God loved us so much, as John tells us in his gospel, that he sent his only Son into the world. The Son took on human nature and will never throw off that human nature; for ages upon endless ages, Jesus Christ will now always be fully human and fully divine. The angels can’t say that. Medieval theologians speculated that knowing this would happen led to Satan’s fall; he couldn’t stomach the thought! Regardless, that is the dignity we have as children of God – in nature, we are closer to Jesus Christ than anything else in creation.

Isn’t this precisely John’s point? At the end of the passage, he tells us: “we shall be like him”. Peter puts it another way, calling us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). The word for ‘partaker’ there is the same root as when Paul says of the Eucharist: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

Here is the good news: the Father loved you and me so much that he sent the Son to be like us so that we could be children of God in him, partaking of his nature, being like him. He went so far as to offer us his own Body and Blood as food and drink for the journey. Think of what happens to food when you eat it; it becomes a part of you. The extraordinary thing about the Eucharist is the opposite happens; we eat and become like him.

As St. Maximilian Kolbe once said: if angels could be jealous of us, it would be for one reason: Holy Communion.

What a privilege, what an amazing destiny the Father has prepared for us. So think of the love the Father has lavished on us!


  • Pope St John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia
  • Why did the Word become flesh?: CCC 456-460 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
  • The union of the person with the Lord through prayer: St. Teresa of Avila, the Interior Castle