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The Second Sunday after Easter
excerpt from
COMMON PRAYER: A Commentary on the Prayer Book Lectionary
Volume 3: Easter to Pentecost (p. 24-25)
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.


Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, in his Private Prayers, asks God, not surprisingly, to remember and bless those who had done him good in various ways -- by their writings, for example, or their guidance or their prayers.  And amongst these he makes special mention of those who helped him by the injuries they had done him.  Imagine -- among those that he gives special thanks for are his enemies!  So also at the beginning of the Epistle for today, St. Peter says, "This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully."  The same St. Peter, who when Jesus told the disciples about his coming suffering and death (Matt. 16:22) could not bear the thought, now holds up his Saviour as an example to all Christians of patient endurance.  As Christ suffered and died, a sacrifice for sin, so should each of us, says the Apostle, be willing to suffer for Christ's sake.  At last he understood what Jesus had said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven..." (Matt. 5:11, 12). 

If, during this Easter season, we are asked by the Church to contemplate the means of our sanctification in light of the justification which is ours through Jesus' resurrection, then on this Sunday we should be brought to the knowledge that the primary means by which this sanctification occurs is through suffering for Christ's sake.  So we enter into the sacrifice of Christ, so we "return to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls".  We have seen Christ endure his Passion; now it is time that we begin ours. 

O happy if ye labour 
As Jesus did for men: 
O happy if ye hunger 
As Jesus hungered then! 
    (Cdn, Book of Common Praise, Hymn 424)
Secondly, we should on this Sunday remember that we are not left to depend on our own resources in our labours.  The Lamb who was slain is yet in the midst of his flock, as the Good Shepherd, ever guiding, ever protecting his beloved sheep.  In the Book of Revelation St. John describes the Lamb that was slain as himself feeding his sheep, and leading them to living fountains of water (Rev. 7:17).  He who died for us, and gave us that proof of his love, has not gone away and left us in the wilderness of this life, but is even now with us as the Good Shepherd. 

It is important for us to realize, as we approach the Day of Pentecost, that it is the Spirit of the Good Shepherd who will be sent to comfort us.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.  Many Christians today, in their understanding of the Holy Spirit, make him into a virtually independent deity.  The Holy Spirit's inspiration is claimed for all sorts of beliefs and actions that are not consistent with the teachings of Jesus.  The possession of the gifts of the Spirit become objects of pride and the cause of division, rather than the cause of humble thanksgiving and a source of unity.  Always remember: the Holy Spirit will never guide you to do, say, or believe, anything that Jesus did not teach.  And above all, we should expect the Holy Spirit, if he is the Spirit of Jesus, to give us patience in our afflictions, to suffer gladly the hurt done to us by others, and lead us to love even our enemies more and more deeply.  The Lord is our Shepherd; therefore can we lack nothing!