Fr. Bob Writes – May 19, 2019

There is newness in all three readings today.  At the end of their first missionary journey, in the first reading, Paul and Barnabas enthusiastically report on the admission of the Gentiles (pagans) into the church.  In the Easter season, the growth and spread of the church is much to the fore.  Each Easter we welcome new converts to the faith.  These new disciples are so much a part of Easter, expressing the perennial newness of the church.  Its message springs eternal! 

And what of Jesus’ new commandment in our gospel today?  Is our love for one another, even within the church, a true sign to an unbelieving world?  We might have to say that it could be if we started to live it.  Instead we settle for negativism and pettiness.  We have no shortage of ethnic slurs, racial dislike, and ill feelings towards minorities. We believe that we are free of sexism, but that can be sorely contested.  The newness of that commandment lies partially in the motivation for observing it.  Christ’s love is to be mirrored in our own.  But is it? God continues to make things new.  A new heaven and a new earth, vividly portrayed in our second reading.  Think of a cleaner environment.  A world free of destructive weapons.  We can help construct a better world even in the here and now.  But do we take personal and social newness seriously?  Or is it mostly business as usual?

Fr. Bob Writes – May 12, 2019

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is always set aside as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It is also called “Good Shepherd Sunday” because in each year of the 3 year cycle the gospel is taken from John’s gospel, chapter 10 in which John  speaks of various aspects of Jesus’ role as the good shepherd. In year A, the theme is Christ as the sheep gate, in year B, Christ as the model shepherd, and in year C, our current year, the theme is the care of the flock.

Today’s gospel speaks of the Christian response to Christ as a willingness to hear his voice and follow his lead. The church of John’s time was beset by persecution from without,especially with its definitive break with the synagogue (Jn 9:34f) and the opposition of Rome, and with difficulties from within on the part of false teachers (1John 2:18; 4:1), The end of the shepherd discourse encourages the believer in the presence of these hardships.

The mutual recognition of Christ and his followers bespeaks a close adherence and assures the Spirit -life which begins here, but continues into eternity. There is , moreover, no need to fear the marauders who attempt to invade the sheepfold. That overarching protective power of the Father will protect the faithful. The Father has entrusted them to Christ and thus they will never be wrested from his grasp (the hand  of the Father and the Son here become one). The Father and Jesus work in perfect concert; they constitute an inseparable unity. To know (i.e be in relationship with) Jesus is to know the Father, and thus enjoy eternal life.