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Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Homily. Readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:27-30.

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White Stole and Gospel
Readings: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14b-17; John 10:27-30


THEME OF THE READINGS
Witnessing to the faith will involve persecution of one sort or another (First Reading, Second Reading). But that is where our real joy lies: living as true disciples of Christ (Psalm). Even if the world does violence against us, we ultimately enjoy God´s protection (Gospel).

DOCTRINAL MESSAGE
Christ´s Church was destined to take in the whole world. The Kingdom that sunk roots among the Israelites was destined to envelop all mankind. Christianity is not an exclusive religion, closed to certain classes or ethnic groups. It can penetrate, transform, and purify any culture. But some of the Jews did not expect this (First Reading). Conditioned, perhaps, as they were by a culture that fought its way into the promised land (see Judges), and accustomed to occasional exile among the alien peoples, they anticipated a Messiah who would expel the Romans and crush hostile enemies. The idea that the real Messiah would love everyone, including the Gentiles, boggled their minds. Certainly that idea thrilled the Gentiles. Indeed, many "from every nation" (Second Reading) would persevere in their faith in Christ.

The Church´s worst enemies can be its own members. Out of ignorance or malice the professed followers of God can harbor jealousy (First Reading) and actually impede others from entering ("You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves" - Matthew 23:15). Such ignorance, or malice, might be born of a personal prejudice about the way we expect God to behave. Mercilessness in the name of justice wasn´t unknown in the Gospel - witness James and John´s question when the Samaritan village refused to welcome Jesus: "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" (Luke 9:54). Peter himself wasn´t above this. "Peter wanted as Messiah a ´divine man,´ who fulfilled people´s expectations, imposing his force upon everyone" (Benedict XVI, General Audience Address, May 17, 2006).

Faithfulness to God means living at his pace. Patient endurance in the day-to-day trials pleases God. Such patience will be rewarded at the Judgment when he wipes away every tear (Second Reading).

What gives us assurance, as best can be achieved in this world, is the faithful listening to the voice of Christ, the Good Shepherd. This listening doesn´t remain passive; it moves us to follow Jesus in concrete ways (Gospel). What was the cause behind Israel´s endless cycle of exile and trouble? Its people didn´t listen to God. In our day, discerning the voice of Christ requires attentiveness to what the Pope, and bishops in communion with him, teach. Therein lays our assurance that the Father watches over us.

Catechesis: The Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men (CCC 849). The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which should be used regularly, is an indispensable resource for helping adults become stronger in their relationship with God, and to grow in their knowledge of the faith. (Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States, No. 31).

PASTORAL APPLICATIONS

Welcome mat. Recognizing that Christ´s redemption aims to save all humanity, and that all people are our brothers, how do we welcome people of other cultures? Do we see them as intruders in the parish? In our country? "I was … a stranger and you welcomed me," Jesus says in Matthew 25:35.

Ongoing formation
. A Catholic who neglects ongoing formation remains a weak believer. We would shy from a middle-aged physician who hasn´t read a professional journal since medical school. Why would an adult Catholic be content with CCD-level catechesis? To fill the gap in formation, a personal reading program can help. A year spent reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church, could restore our grip of the major tenets of the faith. Solid Catholic publications can update us on current topics such as bioethics and applications of the Church´s social teaching.

Collaboration
. Frustration with the world´s problems should not paralyze us. We might wish that God simply fixed the mess around us. But he usually prefers to work through human efforts. Before Jesus fed the 5,000, he waited for someone to offer him five barley loaves and two fish (cf. John 6:9ff). Likewise he waits for us to offer something. Far be it from Christians to bemoan the state of the world _ and to do little else. Christ needs our hands in order to do his work; he needs our speech to bring his words of comfort; he needs our legs to carry his Gospel message abroad. There is a good rule to live by, which states: for every one problem we see, we should think of three solutions. How different the world would be if every Christian did that.
 

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