Sunday 3rd May 2020
4th Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:42-47, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10, Psalm 23

The world of work is brought into focus through the Gospel reading as Jesus reflects on the experiences and intentions of a working shepherd and his flock. This image is offered to help his hearers better understand the relationship between God and His people. One of the issues that these readings raise is the various human motivations for work. The Early believers shared their possessions and gave to those in need; they did not see economic activity as simply the means of personal gain, but as opening the possibility for social justice and the re-distribution of wealth. The thief and the robber entered the workplace by the wrong route with the wrong motives causing harm to the flock. Peter reminds his readers that they too might become victims of injustice and abuse in wider society and invites them to patiently endure.

These various themes might find their focal point in the clear declaration of Jesus “I have come that you might have life in its fullness." The message and impact of Christ touches the whole of our life’s experience and the various themes above offer us practical examples of this reality. The world of work is one of the places where the contrasts and tensions of these Scriptures are worked out.

The working Shepherd is confronted by three realities. The thief and the bandit undermine his endeavours and threaten his capacity for work. The gatekeeper is a supportive companion in the task, offering practical benefit through human interaction and co-operation. His relationship with the sheep who hear and recognise his voice, provides echoes of vocation - not simply a job to be done, but a job that is rooted in relationship and purpose. These contrasting realities raise the question question of the degree to which our experience of work contributes to the fullness of life of which Jesus speaks. The writings of Peter are not simply a call for passive acceptance when this is not the case, but a reminder of both God's greater purpose and the grace and resolve he offers, by his Spirit, to live amidst these realities.

Reflecting on this, a congregation might be invited to consider

How does our engagement with work better enable us to experience God's fullness?

Where do we need strength to persevere and endure?

What opportunities do we have to be supportive companions to others in everyday life?

Another possible reflection could be built on an interpretation of Acts 2. While some see the breaking of bread as a sacramental act, many commentators suggest it is too early in the life of the Church for this understanding to have developed. They argue that 'Breaking of Bread' might simply refer to the sharing of ordinary everyday living. The faith and identity of the early believers infused every aspect of their lives. The application of this to the world of work is an obvious opportunity.

Another possible reflection could be built on an interpretation of Acts 2. While some see the breaking of bread as a sacramental act, many commentators suggest that is too early in the life of the Church for this understanding to have fully developed. They suggest that 'Breaking of Bread' might simply refer to the sharing of ordinary everyday living. Their faith and identity infused every aspect of their lives. The application of this to the world of work is an obvious opportunity.