1. Acts 2, 14 and 36-41
- Peter addresses here
the Jews gathered in Jerusalem. I skip to the very end of his homily, the words that have become
the center of our faith: God has made both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified.
- Climax: Unusual, since it comes in the very first
sentence! These words are the ones that lead to the conversion of the people.
- Then Peter gives his instructions to the first
community: repent, be baptized, and receive the Spirit. It reminds me of the baptism of John.
It should remind everyone here that our rites of acceptance into the community originated in the very beginning of
- It is
not a message of judgment but one of mercy. The promise is made to you. His
whole message is an invitation to the people, and I will put a lot of kindness in all my words.
- Message for our assembly: God’s promise
is also made to all those far off: far away in space and time like ourselves. When I say
this, when we hear this, we will know that it refers to us today.
- Why does Peter say baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? The
phrase “Jesus Christ” is typical of the followers of Peter, and he was the one who first called Jesus “The
Christ.” Let me make sure that the assembly notices this.
- Three thousand persons were added. Imagine
how many persons that is: many more than there are in our assembly today. It is a miracle.
God is acting here, and I can reflect that miracle in my own wonder.
- I will challenge myself: to find the way to touch my listeners and move them
to a new conversion today. I will not achieve this by shouting or dramatizing but by my personal conviction
that what I say is true and has re-oriented my life. Am I convinced of this? Peter’s
listeners were cut to the heart. What about mine?
2. I Peter
- If you are patient when you suffer: Here is an inspiring call for the church
to identify itself with the suffering Christ. For to this you have been called. If
we do not identify with these words, then what kind of church are we? If we avoid suffering, how do we
follow in his footsteps?
passage forms part of the apostle’s instructions for slaves. Interesting! The
liturgical commission did not include that part of the letter in today’s reading. I wonder if any
of us would take it seriously if they had left it in!
- But maybe we should take it seriously. That is my message for the assembly today.
They may be thinking that “we are suffering, but we don’t like it. Life is unfair; we
never get a break. We never get respect.” The hymn in Philippians says that Jesus
assumed a servant status. And this letter says that Jesus left us an example. He raised
the status of servant to prominence in the church. Remember the foot washing. Are we
ready for world-class humiliation? How else would we be able to suffer for doing what is good?
- Then the reading turns into a homily on the suffering
servant passage from Second Isaiah. Climax of this reading: Christ also suffered for you.
- The message for our assembly: Let us
remember when we first heard these words on Good Friday evening. The churches had gone astray like
sheep, in the words of Second Isaiah, but have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
The apostle leads us from Christ the servant to Christ the shepherd. And so we look ahead to the
Gospel for today.
- I will challenge myself: To
identify with this servant Christ when I speak. For if I find it a stretch to say these things or if I
take this reading as merely a set of platitudes for first century Christians, then what kind of Christian am I?
Gospel. John 10, 1-10
- Here is a Good Shepherd
parable from John. Jesus presents a normal setting with several roles. That is part
one. Then he goes on to explain who the people are that those roles are meant to portray.
- First comes the shepherd who enters the sheepfold through
the gate, calls his own sheep by name and leads them out through the gate. He
walks ahead of them.
and governors in ancient times compared themselves to shepherds. We still use the term ‘pastor’
for our spiritual leaders. The most popular of the psalms among Christians is the one we sing today: The
Lord is my shepherd.
- Next come the sheep, who
follow him because they recognize his voice.
- And strangers? They don’t fit in here! They are thieves
and robbers. A thief comes only to steal, slaughter and destroy.
- Finally, Jesus: I am the gate of the sheepfold.
What does the word ‘gate’ mean? Safety, security, legitimacy, order, salvation,
even pasture? No question of danger here: we are out of danger.
- I won’t dwell on the parenthesis about the Pharisees who
didn’t grasp the meaning of the parable. My listeners know I am reading about Jesus.
And if I read well, everyone will understand the point. In addition, strangers today can come from
- Climax: The final words of the reading
are among the most well known of all the gospels: I came that they might have life. I
can pronounce then naturally, in a warm and sharp contrast with the words that came before.
- Message for our assembly: We are called to listen, to recognize
his voice. We have to be familiar with Jesus to pick out his voice from all the others around
us. This takes time, with prayer and self-discipline. It is not a question of knowing
the sound of a voice (like those who have seen), but paying heed to that voice.
- My challenge: How can I project that sense of security and legitimacy in my words?
- If a family has a pet that knows its name and responds to the
voices of the parents and children, that family should appreciate this Gospel passage also.
Word to Eucharist: The Good Shepherd sees his own draw near. As we approach him, do we see
him (in each other and in the most marginalized)?
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