Accepting, Not Rejecting, Jesus’ Offer of Eternal Life, Fourth Wednesday of Easter, April 20, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
April 20, 2016
Acts 12:24-13:5, Ps 67, Jn 12:44-50

 

To listen to today’s homily, please click below:

 

The following points were considered in the homily: 

  • Today there’s a shift in our Easter Mystagogical Catechesis as we make a transition from Jesus’ words about the Good Shepherd to our response to those words and to all that the Church has been giving us over the course of these last three and a half weeks: to the reality of his resurrection and appearances, of Baptism, of his Real Presence, of his Shepherdly care. Today’s passage is Jesus’ last public teaching prior to Holy Thursday. Jesus gives these words right after the crowds were challenging Jesus’ Messianic credentials. John says, “Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him… Nevertheless, many, even among the authorities, believed in him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not acknowledge it openly in order not to be expelled from the synagogue, for they preferred human praise to the glory of God” (Jn 12:37, 42-43). Some refused to believe; others believed but cared too much about human respect. Neither group received and walked in the light Jesus had brought into the world.
  • That leads us to the Lord in the Gospel today. Jesus reveals that he has come as the image of the Father. The one who sees Him, sees the Father. The One who hears him, hears what the Father commanded him to say and speak. The one who believed in Him, believes in the Father who sent him. God the Father sent Jesus into the world to save the world, not to condemn it, but in order to receive that gift, people needed to respond and leave death row. They need to leave the darkness and come into the light. Jesus has given us the Father’s commandment, which is “eternal life,” but we need to live by that commandment, otherwise God’s word, that commandment, will condemn us. Jesus’ words are words to do, not just to hear. His call is something upon which to act with commitment, not something just to consider and remain where we are. The ultimate meaning of a human life depends on how we respond to Jesus’ light, his words, his person, his salvation, placing that gift above human respect and every other consideration.
  • Today in the first reading, we encounter those who show us the way to do this. Paul and Barnabas and the other members of the Church of Antioch were seeking to live by the light of the Lord, to act on his word, to become the living echoes of his voice, and images of the image of the invisible God, radiating his light to those who were still in darkness. The Church was growing by all those drawn to the light they saw in Christians, for in hearing them, they were hearing Christ who had sent them and hearing God the Father; in seeing them, they were seeing a little bit of Christ and the Father he reflected; in believing in them, they were believing in Christ and in the Father who loved the world so much to send his Son to rescue it. So docile were they to the Lord’s command that when the Holy Spirit revealed to them his will while they were praying and fasting, to set Saul and Barnabas apart for the work he had in mind for them, they immediately acted. Paul and Barnabas gave God a blank check. The whole community allowed them to go rather than selfishly kept them to themselves. They knew they were being sent out as a light to the nations and they rejoiced and supported this Mission. And we see what happened. After they were set apart, “They, sent forth by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived in Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.” They were passing on to others Christ’s words, his commandment, his life, his very life risen from the dead in them. And from there they would begin to light the whole world ablaze.
  • The same Lord whom they knew and met and in whom they believed, the same Holy Spirit that set them apart for a special work, speaks to us at Mass, meets us in the Holy Eucharist, consecrates us for a special Mission and then sends us forth together with the Holy Spirit to bring his light, his word, his presence and his salvation. For us we’re not being sent to Cyprus but to the “capital of the world,” New York, empowered by the same gifts that strengthened them. The Church continues to pray for us. The Church continues to fast for us. And we, spurning human respect, seek to do it all for God’s glory. This requires great humility. In the Gospel Jesus spoke not of himself but of the Father. And we speak not of ourselves but of Christ, seeking the hallowing of God’s name not ours, the coming of his kingdom not ours, the doing of his will not ours. The more we do so the more we begin to share his attributes. We become united with him to such a degree that we decrease and he increases, that others in accepting us, or rejecting us, are accepting or rejecting him. We’ll see this reality played out in a special way in St. Paul’s life. He would eventually say, “I have been crucified with Christ and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal 2:18-20).
  • Today as we prepare to the Lord Jesus, the light and life of the world, he renews us in our calling to be set apart from ordinary things for the work to which he has called us, so that he might send us out to serve others in communion with the love flowing out from his heart. May we respond to this grace of our consecration, renewed each consecration of the Mass,  like St. Pau and St. Barnabas did, so that we might spread God’s glory, receive the gift of eternal life that comes from acting on Jesus’ word, and help many others to come to experience with us the eternal kingdom of light!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 Acts 12:24—13:5a

The word of God continued to spread and grow.
After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission,
they returned to Jerusalem,
taking with them John, who is called Mark.
Now there were in the Church at Antioch prophets and teachers:
Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene,
Manaen who was a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them.”
Then, completing their fasting and prayer,
they laid hands on them and sent them off.
So they, sent forth by the Holy Spirit,
went down to Seleucia
and from there sailed to Cyprus.
When they arrived in Salamis,
they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6 and 8

R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel Jn 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 12:44-50

Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me
but also in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.
I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them,
I do not condemn him,
for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words
has something to judge him: the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day,
because I did not speak on my own,
but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”
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