April 30, 2013 Acts 14:19-28; John 14:27-31a
Paul had extraordinary courage. In the first reading we read that he was nearly killed for his preaching … in fact … he was left for dead … but … one thing Paul knew was … that there was nothing that he couldn’t do if he relied on the Lord. Paul had a courage that came from within. Just when things looked really bad … he gets up and continues to proclaim salvation through Jesus.
In today’s Gospel … Jesus prepares His apostles for His upcoming death. Jesus knew they were fearful … it was not an easy message for them to hear … but He gives them assurance … and gives them a gift … the gift of peace … to assure them that the Holy Spirit will guide and lead them.
For us … like the apostles … and like Paul … this peace … this inner sense of security … gives us the courage that comes from the conviction that God is with us and in us … and that we need not fear as long as we rely on the Lord.
Every day we offer each other a sign of God’s peace. May that be a reminder of how powerful the blessing of the peace of Christ is for each of us.
May we live our lives in fullness of peace and hope … trusting that God’s love and care for us will give us the courage we need to live holy lives.
April 22, 2013 Acts 11:1-18; John 10:1-10
As the early Christian community grew … there were struggles and tensions that had to be resolved. The early Christians were Jews … and they maintained many customs of their “Jewishness”, even as they became a Christian community. Peter himself needed convincing and conversion … to see customs and rituals in a different light. In today’s first reading … Peter has that opportunity through a vision to help him along with this process. It became clear to Peter that salvation was for all … and as leader … he needed to bring new light to old ways of thinking. He needed to open up the church to all who were willing to follow.
Peter indeed … was shepherding the early church … the followers listened to him.
In the Gospel … Jesus uses the images of a shepherd and gate … to get His message across. A shepherd and gatekeeper open things up for those who follow … give followers the path and protection they need to thrive. A shepherd and a gate are both protectors … and opportunities for expanding horizons.
The analogies seem obvious to us … but to those early Christians … it was a struggle for understanding … a departure from what was familiar … it was a new way of thinking and acting.
There are messages of love … trust … gentleness … and openness in these readings today.
We need to embrace … and learn from the imagery … so that we can be secure and faithful as we follow the Lord.
May we realize that God works in ways we do not always understand … but … we have Jesus … the shepherd and gate to protect us and show us the way we need to follow.