April 21, 2013 - Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30
THIS IS A TIME FOR JOY!
Cry out with joy to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before God singing for joy! (Psalm 100: 1-2)Easter is not over and done with, for our joy in the resurrection and all that it means to us continues to fill us with JOY. The readings we are given to hear remind us that ALLELUIA remains our song, as we contemplate the resurrection of the Christ in new and deeper ways.
We continue in the daily-ness of our lives. We live in the reality of our human condition. We suffer misunderstanding, persecution, rejection from without; and loss, sadness, bewilderment within. In spite of these experiences of daily life, we know the "end of the story" that our Christ has been raised up, and we are and will be raised up with Christ. We come to this conclusion as we ponder the questions addressed in the readings this week: who is God and who are we?
God is the giver of grace, as we hear Paul and Barnabbas preaching. That grace is incarnate in the Christ. It seems that it is the very grace of God that births belief in the peoples of the early church. Thus, the emphasis is on the initiative of God! In the first reading from Acts, it is clear that some choose to receive such grace, others reject it. It is not surprising that the Jews, the prominent women, and the leading men not only reject the grace of belief, but launch persecution against the bearers of grace, Peter and Barnabbas. As this gracious God always takes the initiative, drawing us into deeper belief and commitment, how do we respond - with receptive hearts or rejecting minds? The very last verse of the first reading reminds us that in spite of the misunderstanding or even persecution that we face, the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.(Acts 13:51) ALLELUIA!
The second reading comes from the Book of Revelation, so highly symbolic in apocalyptic form. We hear of the "Lamb upon the throne." Our Christ is the Passover Lamb of Judaism, and every lamb offered in the Temple a sacrifice to God, an act of worship and praise. In the post-resurrection, we hear in this text that this very lamb is raised up as was the Christ, to a throne in the reign of God. It is not a throne of power as may be held by kings and queens; it is a throne of service: of one who offers shelter, food, drink, protection from sun and heat; For the Lamb will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17) ALLELUIA!
The Gospel passage is short and sweet - and oh so rich! Using the familiar and beloved image of the shepherd, this shepherd, our God knows the sheep, holds them with no chance of their being taken away, gives them eternal life and they shall never perish. (John 10:27b) We conclude that we are known by God, we are held by God, and we are given eternal life. To be known and held by another is a great gift, but even greater: the gift of eternal life. ALLELUIA!
Thus, we join again in the Psalm Response: Cry out with joy to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before God singing for joy! (Psalm 100: 1-2) If we who are baptized into Christ have any grace to bear into our world, into our homes, workplaces, cities, countries, our world, our planet, it is the JOY that comes from faith in the living God.
Who do you know who exhibits such joy? How do you and I exhibit such joy?
Sallie Latkovich, C.S.J.
Director of Bible Study and Travel, Director of the Summer Institute, and Adjunct Professor
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