The Second Sunday after Easter
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.Source of Collect: Archbishop Cranmer , The Collect calls forth the idea of a lamb in saying that Jesus became a sacrifice for us; and complements the image in the Gospel by following the steps of the Good Shepherd. In those days sheep were not driven; they followed [Barbee and Zahl}
Isaih xl. 1, Psalm 21, 23 | 116, 117; 1 St. Peter ii. 19. St. John x. 11.
I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep
READINGSIsaiah xl. 1
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 40:5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Psalm 21, 23 | 116, 117
1 St. Peter ii. 19.
THIS is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
St. John x. 11.
JESUS said, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and know my sheep, and am known of mine, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd.1928 BCP and KJV
The Collects of Thomas Cranmer
Other Homilies: Augustine on the Gospel on Psalm XXIII | CXVII | On the Martyrs Cup of Suffering
An extract beginning with John x. 1.
Chap. x. ver. 1 . "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."
Observe the marks of a robber; first, that he doth not enter openly; secondly, not according to the Scriptures, for this is the, "not by the door." Here also He referreth to those who had been before, and to those who should be after Him, Antichrist and the false Christs, Judas and Theudas, and whatever others there have been of the same kind. And with good cause He calleth the Scriptures "a door," for they bring us to God, and open to us the knowledge of God, they make the sheep, they guard them, and suffer not the wolves to come in after them. For Scripture, like some sure door, barreth the passage against the heretics, placing us in a state of safety as to all that we desire, and not allowing us to wander; and if we undo it not, we shall not easily be conquered by our foes. By it we can know all, both those who are, and those who are not, shepherds. But what is "into the fold"? It refers to the sheep, and the care of them. For he that useth not the Scriptures, but "climbeth up some other way," that is, who cutteth out for himself another and an unusual way, "the same is a thief." Seest thou from this too that Christ agreeth with the Father, in that He bringeth forward the Scriptures? On which account also He said to the Jews, "Search the Scriptures" ( c. v. 39 ); and brought forward Moses, and called him and all the Prophets witnesses, for "all," saith He, "who hear the Prophets shall come to Me"; and, "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me." But here He hath put the same thing metaphorically. And by saying, "climbeth up some other way," He alluded to the Scribes, because they taught for commandments the doctrines of men, and transgressed the Law ( Matt. xv. 9 ); with which He reproached them, and said, "None of you doeth the Law." ( c. vii. 19 .) Well did He say, "climbeth up," not "entereth in," since to climb is the act of a thief intending to overleap a wall, and who doeth all with danger. Hast thou seen how He hath sketched the robber? now observe the character of the shepherd. What then is it?
Ver. 2-4 . "He that entereth in by the door, the same is the shepherd of the sheep; to him the doorkeeper openeth, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own by name. And when he hath brought them out, he goeth before them."
[3.] He hath set down the marks of the shepherd, and of the evil doer; let us now see how He hath fitted to them what followeth. "To him," He saith, "the doorkeeper openeth"; He continueth in the metaphor to make the discourse more emphatic. But if thou shouldest be minded to examine the parable word by word, there is nothing to hinder thee from supposing Moses to be the doorkeeper, for to him were entrusted the oracles of God. "Whose voice the sheep hear, and he calleth his own by name." Because they everywhere said that He was a deceiver, and confirmed this by their own unbelief, saying, "Which of the rulers hath believed on him?" ( c. vii. 48 .) He showeth that they ought not on account of the unbelief of those persons to call Him a spoiler and deceiver, but that they, because they gave no heed to Him were consequently even excluded from the rank of sheep. For if a shepherd's part is to enter through the usual door, and if He entered through this, all they who followed Him might be sheep, but they who rent themselves away, hurt not the reputation of the Shepherd, but cast themselves out from the kindred of the sheep. And if farther on He saith that He is "the door," we must not again be disturbed, for He also calleth Himself "Shepherd," and "Sheep," and in different ways proclaimeth His dispensations. Thus, when He bringeth us to the Father, He calleth Himself "a Door," when He taketh care of us, "a Shepherd"; and it is that thou mayest not suppose, that to bring us to the Father is His only office, that He calleth Himself a Shepherd. "And the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep, and leadeth them out, and goeth before them." Shepherds indeed do the contrary, for they follow after them; but He to show that He will lead all men to the truth, doeth differently; as also when He sent the sheep, He sent them, not out of the way of wolves, but "in the midst of wolves." ( Matt. x. 16 .) For far more wonderful is this manner of keeping sheep than ours. He seemeth to me also to allude to the blind man, for him too, having "called," He "led out" from the midst of the Jews, and the man heard "His voice," and "knew" it.
Ver. 5 . "And a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers."
Certainly here He speaketh of Theudas and Judas, (for "all, as many as believed on them, were scattered" [ Acts v. 36 ], It saith,) or of the false Christs who after that time should deceive. For lest any should say that He was one of these, He in many ways separateth Himself from them. And the first difference He setteth down is His teaching from the Scriptures; for He by means of these led men to Him, but the others did not from these draw men after them. The second is, the obedience of the sheep; for on Him they all believed, not only while He lived, but when He had died; the others they straightway left. With these we may mention a third difference, no trifling one. They did all as rebels, and to cause revolts, but He placed Himself so far from such suspicion, that when they would have made Him a king, He fled; and when they asked, "Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar?" He bade them pay it, and Himself gave the two drachm piece. ( Matt. xvii. 27 .) Besides this, He indeed came for the saving of the sheep, "That they might have life, and that they might have more abundantly" ( ver. 10 ), but the others deprived them even of this present life. They betrayed those who were entrusted to them and fled, but He withstood so nobly as even to give up His life. They unwillingly, and by compulsion, and desiring to escape, suffered what they suffered, but He willingly and by choice endured all.
Ver. 6 . "This parable spake Jesus unto them, but they understood not what things they were which He spake unto them."
And wherefore spake He obscurely? Because He would make them more attentive; when He had effected this, He removes the obscurity, saying,
Ver. 9 . "I am the door, by Me if any man enter in, he shall go in and out, and find pasture."
As though He had said, "shall be in safety and security," (but by "pasture," He here meaneth His nurturing and feeding the sheep, and His power and Lordship,) that is, "shall remain within, and none shall thrust him out." Which took place in the case of the Apostles, who came in and went out securely, as having become lords of all the world, and none was able to cast them out.
Ver. 8 . "All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them."
He doth not here speak of the Prophets, (as the heretics assert,) for as many as believed on Christ did hear them also, and were persuaded by them; but of Theudas and Judas, and the other exciters of sedition. Besides, He saith, "the sheep did not hear them," as praising them; now nowhere is He seen to praise those who refused to hearken to the Prophets, but, on the contrary, to reproach and accuse them vehemently; whence it is evident that the, "did not hear," refers to those leaders of sedition.
Ver. 10 . "The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."
Which then took place when all (their followers) were slain and perished. "But I am come that they might have life, and that they might have more." And what is "more" than life, tell me? The kingdom of heaven. But He doth not as yet say this, but dwelleth on the name of "life," which was known to them.
Ver. 11 . "I am the good Shepherd."
Here He next speaketh concerning the Passion, showing that this should be for the salvation of the world, and that He came to it not unwillingly. Then again He mentioneth the character of the shepherd and the hireling. "For the shepherd layeth down his life."
Ver. 12 . "But he that is an hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth, and the wolf cometh and catcheth them."
Here He declareth Himself to be Master even as the Father, if so be that He is the Shepherd, and the sheep are His. Seest thou how He speaketh in a more lofty tone in His parables, where the sense is concealed; and giveth no open handle to the listeners? What then doth this hireling? He "seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and the wolf cometh, and scattereth them." This those false teachers did, but He the contrary. For when He was taken, He said, "Let these go their way, that the saying might be fulfilled" ( c. xviii. 8, 9 ), that not one of them was lost. Here also we may suspect a spiritual wolf to be intended; for neither did Christ allow him to go and seize the sheep. But he is not a wolf only, but a lion also. "Because our adversary the devil," It saith, "walketh about as a roaring lion." ( 1 Pet. v. 8 .) He is also a serpent, and a dragon; for, "Tread ye on serpents and scorpions." ( Luke x. 19 .)
[4.] Wherefore, I beseech you, let us remain pasturing beneath this Shepherd; and we shall remain, if we obey Him, if we hear His voice, if we follow not a stranger. And what is His voice? "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the merciful." ( Matt. v. 3, 8, 7 .) If thus we do, we shall remain beneath the Shepherd, and the wolf will not be able to come in; or if he come against us, he will do so to his own hurt. For we have a Shepherd who so loveth us, that He gave even His life for us. When therefore He is both powerful and loveth us, what is there to hinder us from being saved? Nothing, unless we ourselves revolt from Him. And how can we revolt?
Hear Him saying, "Ye cannot serve two masters, God and mammon." ( Matt. vi. 24 .) If then we serve God, we shall not submit to the tyranny of mammon. And truly a bitterer thing than any tyranny is the desire of riches; for it brings no pleasure, but cares, and envyings, and plottings, and hatred, and false accusations, and ten thousand impediments to virtue, indolence, wantonness, greediness, drunkenness, which make even freemen slaves, nay, worse than slaves bought with money, slaves not to men, but even to the most grievous of the passions, and maladies of the soul. Such a one dares many things displeasing to God and men, dreading lest any should remove from him this dominion. O bitter slavery, and devlish tyranny! For this is the most grievous thing of all, that when entangled in such evils we are pleased and hug our chain, and dwelling in a prison house full of darkness, refuse to come forth to the light, but rivet evil upon ourselves, and rejoice in our malady. So that we cannot be freed, but are in a worse state than those that work the mines, enduring labors and affliction, but not enjoying the fruit.
And what is in truth worse than all, if any one desire to free us from this bitter captivity, we do not suffer it, but are even vexed and displeased, being in this respect in no better case than madmen, or rather in a much more miserable state than any such, inasmuch as we are not even willing to be delivered from our madness. What? was it for this, O man, that thou wast brought into the world? Was it for this that thou wast made a man, that thou mightest work in these mines, and gather gold? Not for this did God create thee in His Image, but that thou mightest please Him, that thou mightest obtain the things to come, that thou mightest join the choir of Angels. Why now dost thou banish thyself from such a relationship, and thrust thyself into the extreme of dishonor and meanness? He who came by the same birth pangs with thee, (the spiritual birth pangs I mean,) is perishing with hunger, and thou art bursting with fullness: thy brother goeth about with naked body, but thou providest garments even for thy garments, heaping up all this clothing for the worms. How much better would it have been to put them on the bodies of the poor; so would they have remained undestroyed, would have freed thee from all care, and have won for thee the life to come. If thou wilt not have them to be moth-eaten, give them to the poor, these are they who know how to shake these garments well. The Body of Christ is more precious and more secure than the coffer, for not only doth It keep the garments safe, not only doth It preserve them unconsumed, but even rendereth them brighter. Oftentimes the coffer taken with the garments causeth thee the utmost loss, but this place of safety not even death can harm. With It we need neither doors nor bolts, nor wakeful servants, nor any other such security, for our possessions are free from all treacherous attacks, and are laid up under guard, as we may suppose things laid up in heaven would be; for to all wickedness that place is inaccessible.
These things we cease not continually to say to you, and you hearing are not persuaded. The reason is, that we are of a soul which is mean, gaping upon the earth, groveling on the ground. Or rather, God forbid that I should condemn you all of wickedness, as though all were incurably diseased. For even if those who are drunk with riches stop their ears against my words, yet they who live in poverty will be able to look clearly to what I say. "But what," saith some one, "hath this to do with the poor? for they have no gold, or any such garments." No, but they have bread and cold water, but they have two obols, and feet to visit the sick, but they have a tongue and speech to comfort the bedridden, but they have house and shelter to make the stranger their inmate. We demand not from the poor such and such a number of talents of gold, these we ask from the rich. But if a man be poor, and come to the doors of others, our Lord is not ashamed to receive even an obol, but will say that He hath received more from the giver, than from those who cast in much. How many of those who now stand here would desire to have been born at that time, when Christ went about the earth in the flesh, to have conversed and sat at meat with Him? Lo, this may be done now, we may invite Him more than then to a meal, and feast with Him, and that to greater profit. For of those who then feasted with Him many even perished, as Judas and others like him; but every one of those who invite Him to their houses now, and share with Him table and roof, shall enjoy a great blessing. "Come," it saith, "ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto Me." ( Matt. xxv. 34-36 .) That then we may hear these words, let us clothe the naked, let us bring in the stranger, feed the hungry, give the thirsty drink, let us visit the sick, and look upon him that is in prison, that we may have boldness and obtain remission of our sins, and share those good things which transcend both speech and thought. Which may we all obtain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the might forever. Amen.