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.

April 25, 2010

For the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 13:14,43-52
Revelation 7:9,14b-17
John 10:27-30

In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas were in a city of the pagan land of Pisidia, in today’s land of Turkey.
They were preaching to the city’s Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath.
They won such interest among Jews and pagans that “almost the whole city gathered to hear” them on the Sabbath of the following week.
In the second reading, countless men and women, “from every nation, race, people, and tongue”— so including Jewish and pagan converts— all stand in heaven at the end of time.
They worship before the throne of the Lamb, the Lord God Jesus Christ.
They have suffered for him and his Gospel.
In the third reading, the Gospel, Christ is at the Jerusalem Temple.
It is the week of the Hanukkah festival, recalling the re-consecration of the Temple about two hundred years before, after invading pagans had desecrated it.
All three readings have to do with eternal life and a place and time of worship.
All three also have to do with Jews, pagans and Christians.
As for Christians, the first reading says “the Lord has commanded us” to serve as “a light to the Gentiles” that we “may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth”— for both Jews and pagans.
For those who sincerely receive Christ— in mystery or openly— the second reading holds a great promise.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The last eight weekdays of daily Mass have taken us through a single Gospel chapter [Jn. 6] where Christ makes the same promise.
I am the bread of life;
he who comes to me shall not hunger,
and he who believes in me shall never thirst. [6:35]

The will of him who sent me
is that I should lose not one person of all those he has given me,
but raise each one up at the last day. [6:39]

That promise is in today’s Gospel also.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them,
and they follow me.
I give them eternal life,
and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.

Invincible, everlasting life and the guarantee of his invincible hand and the Father’s invincible hand— that is quite a promise for a mere man to make.
So Christ adds a claim to be endlessly more than a mere man.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me,
is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.

The Jews heard that as a blasphemous claim to be God equally with the heavenly Father.
The Gospel goes on to say they picked up stones to pound Christ to death.
On that day they did not pull off hurting or killing him.
That had to wait until the first Christians betrayed, abandoned, disowned, denied, and lied against him.
The Christians did it first: allowing him to die in their hearts to save their own skins.
The wicked— or holy— irony is that in his heart Christ chose to suffer death to save our skins and our hearts.
The second reading said it of Christians: “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
For this reason they stand before God’s throne....
They will not hunger or thirst anymore....
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.

By his own invincible hand, he will end every kind of hunger and thirst.
By his own invincible hand, he will uphold us beyond sadness and fear.
By his own invincible hand, he will, give us life, joy, and glory without measure or end.
However, our receiving the fulfillment of his promises depends on our fulfilling the first two lines he says in his Gospel today.
My sheep HEAR my voice;
... and they FOLLOW me.

We have come to this temple consecrated to God in Christ, and to this altar of the sacrificial Lamb of God.
He gives his word— both in his Gospel and in his Body and Blood.
So we hear his voice.
My sheep HEAR my voice;
... and they FOLLOW me.

Is that true of us?
If I want to be truly faithful in following Christ, then I must consecrate my every free and knowing choice to serve as “a light to the Gentiles” and “an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”
If I want to be truly faithful in following Christ, then I must consecrate my every free and knowing choice to fit into the Spirit-filled temple of Christ’s invincible hand.
Only then may I hope to stand before his throne, to hear him say to me again, “The Father and I are one,” as both of them take me into their hands forever.

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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