Readings: Acts 13:14,43-52; Rev 7:9,14-17; Jn 10:27-30
Evangelization, the fourth sign a dynamic Catholic is the overarching theme in the readings of this Sunday. The lamb who is the shepherd is the key phrase that captures the central message. A true story is told of an artist who was working on a church roof in Werden, Germany. His safety belt snapped and he fell. The area below was filled with sharp rocks. As fate would have it, a lamb chose that moment to have its lunch of grass between the rocks. He fell on the lamb who died immediately, but the artist survived. I tell this story because the readings focus on the Lamb who was slain for our sins. He is the Good Shepherd who dies to give us life. The Book of Revelations says that “the Lamb…will shepherd them to springs of life-giving water.” This shepherding is fulfilled in the Acts of the Apostles where the young Church following the voice of the Holy Spirit sends Paul and Barnabas to proclaim the message of the Shepherd to the Jews in Antioch. The rejection of the Good News by the Jews becomes a blessing in disguise, because Paul and Barnabas turn to the Gentiles who warmly welcome the Good News. The comforting message is clear. Countless difficulties, opposition, deceit and persecution have never succeeded in blocking the mission of the Church because the risen Lord is always present.
The Gospel of this Sunday proclaims good news of comfort for millions people in the world today. It also offers us a great challenge. The comforting message is that the risen Lord is our Shepherd who cares for us. As long as we listen to his voice, no one can snatch us out his hands. The challenge for both pastors and lay faithful alike is to recognize the voice of the shepherd in the midst of countless voices in the world around us, the TV channels, the radio, the Internet, Facebook and Tweets. We face these challenges by remaining focused on the vision and mission of the Shepherd through the Church. At every liturgical celebration we listen to the voice of the Shepherd and renew our commitment to follow him. The message we take home this Sunday is threefold. 1) We are challenged to listen and follow the Risen Lord who shepherds us through the Church. 2) Just as the risen Lord is the lamb who dies for us and suffers with us, you and I are challenged to reach out with compassion to those who suffer. 3) As an Easter people touched by the risen Lord, we are challenged to purposely reach out to those who are weak in their faith; those tested by the many conflicting voices in the world; those led away from the flock, away from the Shepherd and bring them back home to the fold. Christ is risen!
©2016 John S. Mbinda