May 7—Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
1 Peter 2:20b-25
Dear People of God,
Just to remind us why we are here at Mass. We give thanksgiving to God for Jesus’ once for all perfect sacrifice of praise by his death and resurrection where he overcame sin and death. We give thanksgiving by offering to the Father that once for all sacrifice of Jesus and receiving the benefit of it.
In today’s gospel there are three characters. First, the shepherd (Jesus), second the thief and robber (Satan), and third the sheep (you and I). We sheep meet the shepherd and the thief. Who of them gets into our heart? Who gets to enter that secret place where we encounter and decide. Both come as light. Does it not sound strange, my fellow monks and you good people here, that someone might make friends with the thief and follow him? Who is the thief going to steal from? From you. What does he steal from you? He will steal honesty and transparency, he will steal true responsibility and get you to blame others for misfortunes, he will give you anger, lust, greed, envy and these are losses. He will foster self-centeredness in you and get you to practice emotional violence in yourself and toward others by voice and attitude. He can do it in a monastery and he can do it to any of you good people here. The thief can also give us a good life lived according to culturally correct norms, but it will also be a life without real faith in Christ Jesus.
What about the shepherd? At the end of the gospel Jesus, the shepherd, says a thief comes only to steal, slaughter and destroy. Even the devil’s gifts of a politically and culturally correct life steals from us and destroys our chance for heaven. About himself Jesus says that he has come so that they, (the sheep, you and I) might have life and have it more abundantly. Think of all the virtues and attitudes that come from abundant life. Jesus wants to give us monks all the virtues that make for an abundant monastic life and he is able to do so if you want them and are willing to give up what is against them. The same is true for all here this morning.
Both the shepherd and the thief come to us as light, except only Jesus is the true light. The devil does not come as darkness but as tempter to get us to embrace light that is not real light or truth. Which light will your heart welcome? In the special place in each of us where we encounter another in a meaningful way that changes us and where we make decisions, we decide our destiny. One of them, Jesus or the devil will have the upper hand in our life. This is very important. God bless you. Amen.