4th Week of Easter, Monday, April 26
Acts 11:1-18 / John 10:1-10
Jesus talks about life; "I came to give you life in all its fullness."
A 50-year-old man with a terminal illness wrote to a friend: "I suddenly asked myself, 'What am I doing? Why am I working at something I don't enjoy? Why am I building a bank account that will do me no good when I am dead?' "
Then the man told his friend that he was going to change his approach to life and live the way his heart dictated he should.
That man lived 18 more months. Before he died, he told someone that the final 18 months of his life were "the best, the fullest, and the richest" of his entire life. Jesus came to teach us "the best, the fullest, and the richest" way to live.
How full and rich is our present life? How might it become richer and fuller? "Our life is scarce the twinkle of a star in God's eternal day." Bayard Taylor
“I have come that they may have life – life in abundance,” says Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He is the door to all. In the first reading, Peter defends his action of baptizing the pagan Cornelius on the same grounds: also, pagans are called to accept the Gospel and the Holy Spirit comes down on them too, although apparently, the same Christians seem to have understood the case of Cornelius and his household as an exceptional instance. Is the Church – are we – open to accept all? What do we do to make this a reality? Remember, Jesus had come to bring life to all.
In ancient Greece and in the East, kings and political leaders loved to call themselves shepherds. Jesus explains to us the elements required to be called a good shepherd. The sheep are entrusted to Peter, but all Christians are called to care for, guide and guard.
1. Knowledge: He knows his own and they know him. This knowledge is not a question of intelligence, but of readiness to know and understand. It is not obtained by study, but by love and prayer. He knows all and understands all. His own listen to his voice and are directed to him.
2. Guidance: To be a Christian, is to follow. He went ahead. He leads to rich pasture.
3. Defense: Who knows Christ, knows that he will guard him from harm
4. Sacrifice: He has given his life for us.
5. For all: Jesus loves all, even those not of his fold. The call is for all.
The saying that "one man's meat is another man's poison" may not have the literal meaning of poison. Rather it means that things liked or enjoyed by one person may be distasteful to another. The general meaning points to food but it may also have a broader application. The vision that Peter had in the 1st reading was about a sheet that contained all sorts of animals and wild beasts. And then the command "kill and eat" obviously meant that the meat of these animals is meant as food. Though Peter initially objected because he thought of the meats of some animals as "profane and unclean", the voice in the vision stated "What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane". But the vision is not just about food and about what is "profane and unclean".
It has a further meaning that applies to people, and for Peter, just as he thought of some meats as profane and unclean, he thought of the pagans as profane and unclean. We may not think of pagans as "profane and unclean". But in our minds, there are some people, regardless of whether they are pagans or otherwise, that we think are "profane and unclean" in that they irritate us to the marrow of our bones and we think of them as toxic and poisonous.
Through the vision of Peter, God is also telling us that these people are also created by Him, and we have no right to call them profane and unclean, or toxic and poisonous. Let us ask the Lord to cleanse us of these profane and unclean, toxic and poisonous thoughts of our hearts, so that we are able to see these people with the eyes of God and to slowly come to understand them with a heart of love.
Prayer: Lord our God, Father of all, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ among us to reveal to us that you care about people and that your love extends to all, without any distinction of race or culture. Give us a great respect for all people, whatever way they come, and let your Church embrace all cultures, that Jesus may truly be the Lord and Shepherd of all, now and forever. Amen