One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

May 03, 2009

For the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12
1 John 3:1-2
John 10:11-18

Today in his Gospel Jesus says:
I am the good shepherd....
... they will hear my voice,
and there will be ONE flock,
ONE shepherd.

God’s Word in the first reading upholds that more strongly.
Jesus Christ the Nazarene...
... has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race
by which we are to be saved.

This may be the most politically incorrect teaching of Christ.
He has one flock only.
He is the only Good Shepherd and the only Cornerstone of all salvation.
Apart from Christ there is no salvation.
Furthermore, by the Word of God, his Church is his Body and his fullness [Eph. 1:22-23].
So then: apart from Christ and “Outside the Church there is no salvation” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 846-848].
That is a Church teaching, but with a specific understanding.
It has a narrow, exclusive meaning that is true.
It also has a broader, more inclusive meaning that is also true.
On the one hand, if a man actually knew Christ to be the only Savior and the Church to be his Body, but that man refused Christ and his Church, that man could not be saved.
On the other hand, the Word of God our Savior says he “desires ALL men to be saved” [1 Tim. 2:4], and “with God all things are possible” [Mt. 19:26].
So, we must reverently leave open that God works for the salvation of all, even if we do not see it happen in the way he commanded us to follow.
Here is how the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” [1260] says it.
Since Christ died for all,
and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny,
which is divine,
we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all
the possibility of being made partakers,
in a way known to God,
of the Paschal mystery.
Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church,
but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it,
can be saved.

So, “in a way known to God,” and not necessarily known to us, “the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made” to share in Christ’s death and resurrection.
Christ says he is the one shepherd, and there will be but one flock.
Even so, shortly before he ascended into heaven, the Lord three times told his apostle Simon to take the Lord’s role as shepherd of the Lord’s flock [Jn. 21].
Feed my lambs!
Tend my sheep!
Feed my sheep!

Jesus put his own shepherd’s mantle on the shoulders of his apostle.
I am the good shepherd....
... they will hear my voice,
and there will be ONE flock,
ONE shepherd. [Jn. 10]

Simon....
Feed my lambs!
Tend my sheep!
Feed my sheep! [Jn. 21]

He who hears you hears me,
and he who rejects you rejects me,
and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. [Lk. 10:16]

Because of Christ: “Outside the Church there is no salvation” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 846-848].
I am the good shepherd....
... they will hear my voice,
and there will be ONE flock,
ONE shepherd. [Jn. 10]

Jesus sees to the tending, feeding, life, and growth of his sheep.
However, he chooses to do so by the flesh and blood work of men who are his apostles in his Church on earth.
God in Christ scandalizes the world by having his apostolic Church as his all-inclusive mouthpiece.
He who hears you hears me,
and he who rejects you rejects me,
and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. [Lk. 10:16]

We enter the flock of Christ through faith and baptism at the flesh and blood hands of his apostolic Church.
Jesus ascended into heaven in his real flesh and blood, but he left us in the flesh and blood care of real men, because we are flesh and blood, and not only spirit.
These flesh and blood ways demand more out of us than would a purely spiritual relationship with Jesus alone.
Because they demand more, they can also open us up more.
We may suffer for the Church, and even because of the Church.
Jesus suffered for his Church, and because of his Church.
That is how he both takes and gives more and even all through his Church.
That is how we, his sheep, may both give and take more and even all from our shepherd.
The more and the all from our shepherd is the power of his Body and Blood that he gives us through the hands of his apostolic Church.
Today in his Gospel, he tells us how to receive and live by that power.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life
in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me,
but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down,
and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.

By the command of our Father, we are sheep of Christ through his Church by which he tends and feeds us.
He may have us lay down our lives, but always with power to take them up again.
What awaits us once we take up our lives in the resurrection?
God’s answer comes through the Church in the second reading today.
Beloved,
we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark Doherty, Seattle, WA said...

Father Stephanos:
I've followed your online homilies for years and got so much from them. Thank you for what you do for the Faith and for your Abbey. I had the privilege of seeing / hearing you deliver one of your homilies - your wonderful Fourth Sunday of Easter homily - in person at Abbey Mass. You are as gifted a preacher as you are a homilist. Thank you, God bless you, and thanks to Father Abbot Charles for allowing Father Stephanos' light of Christ to shine on us all..

8:32 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Dear Mark:


If I have been able to do the good of which you write, that is a sure sign that you have been praying for me. Otherwise, it is not possible.

Thank you.

I pray for you and for all who read here.


Fraternally yours in Christ and his Church:


Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

8:48 AM  

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