for Sunday, May 7, 2017
"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - this almost sounds like the beginning of Lent, and yet it is from the Acts of the Apostles in our first reading today on the 4th Sunday of Easter. Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, always is the culmination of Lent. We meditate on the death of Christ so that we can understand His Resurrection.
The second reading, from the First Letter of Saint Peter, echoes this same theme in these words: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness." Easter is not a time of joy that forgets the value of suffering - and the value of living as Jesus lived. In order to grow in our understanding of God's love, we must also grow in our understanding of accepting suffering and our understanding of repentance.
Both of these readings bring us to the Gospel of John, which today is about the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd always watches over those given to Him and draws them to follow Him because they know His voice. On those who follow the Good Shepherd can enter the Kingdom. "Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture."
Following the Good Shepherd is not about belonging to the Catholic Church or to any Church. Following the Good Shepherd is about loving others. Many people love others and serve them and have not found a Christian community in which they feel at home. Or they have not found a Christian community that is so full of the life of Christ that they convert. One of the great criticisms of Christianity is that so many of us Christians are poor witnesses to the present of the love, mercy and forgiveness of Christ.
To be strong witnesses, we have to be able to accept suffering! We must be able to give our lives for others, not looking for comfort or good reputation or money or power or anything else: only the love that Jesus has given to us. And we must share that love with others by sacrificing ourselves. That is what Jesus did and that is what Jesus asks of us. We know the call: Come to me, all you who are burdened! But that means: come to me, suffer with me for others, give your life for others. In that you will find resurrection. Alleluia.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: