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Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Homily – Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)


First Reading – Acts 13:14,43-52 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):1-3,5 ©
Second Reading – Apocalypse 7:9,14-17 ©
Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14
The Gospel According to John 10:27-30 ©

(NJB)


Be mindful!

We do not preach the good news to save people, we preach the good news that they are already saved.

We are not the actors in the drama of salvation, God is, and we are the subjects of God’s love.

Remember, grace is not a trust that we are given, it is not a thing of value, like a talent of silver or a measure of grain. The grace God has poured out on you, God has poured out on everyone.

As Christians we are called to have faith in that grace, to trust in it, to trust in God’s plan for the salvation of everyone.

Leave no one outside of your prayers.

The apostles were motivated to adhere to the norms of their society, going first to the Jews because they had relationships with them already, and so the preached to them first, and through them they reached out to others in the community, people who did not know the laws of Moses, or the tradition of the prophets and they made converts among them.

The apostles presented themselves as instruments of God’s will, spreading the good news, to all the nations, and so they slipped the bounds of their society, because God’s proclamation of love is to great to be confined to a single group.

Their message of hope and lovee was welcome among the people. The people wanted to hear, that no matter what their class or station God knew them, God loves them and has selected each of them for eternal life.

Nevertheless there was resistance among the leading Pharisees and their allies in upper classes. There is always resistance to the gospel from among those who feel like the path to salvation is something for them to protect and control.

In the face of that resistance, the apostles recognized that they had reached the end of what they could accomplish there, and so they moved on, carrying the good news with them.

Be mindful!

God is with us wherever we are.

Wherever God is, there is God’s temple.

Enter the temple with hope and joy, there are no prerequisites, the entrance is there. You are standing at the threshold.

Serve God, by serving your sisters and brothers, look into the face of your neighbor and see the face of God shining back at you.

When the scriptures tell us we are God’s people; those words are not directed to the audience who first heard and read them, nor to us as we are reading them now. The scope of those words is not so narrow, the scope of God’s work is infinite. God’s word is directed toward every living being that ever was, ever has been and ever will be.

The good news applies to the whole of creation, in a world without end; we belong to God and God’s mercy lasts forever,

Remember this!

God is not a king.

God does not sit on a throne.

The multitude that John witnessed in his vision is numberless, their number is without measure.

Their number is without end.

It is the full number of those who have experienced the persecution of the living, of long the sojourn of time and space.

The multitude is all of us, all of God’s children gathered together as one, and none are lost, the good shepherd has ensured it.

Be mindful!

We do not arrive in this place by the blood of the lamb, not the literal blood, this is a poor metaphor is a metaphor (one we should abandon), we are not sanctified by animal sacrifice. We never were.

We come into God’s presence when we have let go all of our enmities, when we have forgiven all who have wronged us and accepted the forgiveness of those we have wronged.

It is then and only then that we stand in the presence of the fullness of God.

To stand in God’s presence before we are prepared, is to face God as a purifying fire.

Listen!

There is wisdom and truth in the reading for today. There is also folly, misconstrual, fear, and lies.

Separate them!

Remember the beginning of Joh’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word
All things came to be through the Word
Not one thing came to be with the Word
In the Word was life, and light

Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word is the Good Shepherd, every sheep belongs to him. There is not one sheep that is not a member of God’s sheepfold.

It is sad and unfortunate that the priests and the bishops of the Church, the hirelings who put themselves in positions of management forget this. They have done great harm to the People of God because of their fear, their greed and their shortsightedness.

They believed that were only responsible for a few of the sheep, when in reality that were tasked with protecting the whole.

Many of them, even from the earliest days of the Church, presented themselves as Sheep and Shepherd to the community, both; but they were really rustlers and wolves who came to devour the flock, consuming it and wounding it in their ravenous hunger.

Remember, God does not love the shepherd because the shepherd laid down his life, but rather the Shepherd laid down his life in recognition of God’s love that was already present, a love so great that the Shepherd trusted in it completely.

Love preceded the sacrifice, the sacrifice did not engender love.

Be mindful of this! Remember it always!
 
The sheep do not choose the shepherd, but rather the shepherd who chooses the sheep.

Jesus, the Christ, the Word of God; in whom all that is comes to be, Jesus is the shepherd and his flock is the whole of humanity, he has chosen all of us, and everyone belongs to him.

As Christians we hold that Jesus is the shepherd and the shepherd is God; God, the creator of the universe.

There is just the one shepherd; and the Shepherd has just the one sheepfold, and whether it make sense to us or not, that is immaterial, we belong to the Shepherd, he has called us each by name.

Listen for the voice of the shepherd, and do not trouble yourself with how the shepherd speaks to you, in what language, in what text, how the shepherd speaks to your sister or brother, to your neighbors or the stranger.

The shepherd is speaking to them too, and they are listening as they are able (or willing). In this same way the shepherd speaks to you. You are no different from them.

Everyone that is, everyone in existence, everyone without exception follows in the way of God, there is no other way.

Do not trouble yourself if you do not understand the journey any other person is on, God is guiding them, as God is guiding you.

Your failures are your own, as theirs belong to them. God has accounted for them all.

If you resist, God will be patient, God will wait, as God waits for everyone.

For God, Jesus, the shepherd, their ministry is a ministry of love, they are love, and love is as patient; as it is kind.

Do not doubt it.

God will not lose a single one of us. Neither will any one of us lose God. No matter what; God is with us, because there is not place, not a single place where God is not.

To the end God is with us, and the end is God.


First Reading – Acts 13:14,43-52 ©

'We Must Turn to the Pagans'

Paul and Barnabas carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the Sabbath and took their seats.

When the meeting broke up many Jews and devout converts joined Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.

The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:

I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’

It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.

But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 99(100):1-3,5 ©

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
  Serve the Lord with gladness.
  Come before him, singing for joy.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Know that he, the Lord, is God.
  He made us, we belong to him,
  we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Indeed, how good is the Lord,
  eternal his merciful love.
  He is faithful from age to age.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Alleluia!


Second Reading – Apocalypse 7:9,14-17 ©

The Lamb Will be their Shepherd and Will Lead them to Springs of Living Water

I, John, saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. One of the elders said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb, they now stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’


Gospel Acclamation – John 10:14

Alleluia, alleluia!

I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my own sheep and my own know me.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to John 10:27-30 ©

I know my sheep and they follow me

Jesus said:

‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.

I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.

The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’


The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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