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Sunday Sharing

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Mother’s Day

I hope you have enjoyed Mother’s Day. Today’s readings leave us four weeks from Easter; and the apostles Paul and Barnabas are preaching in the synagogues. The First Reading tells us that many Jews came to hear them preach and converted. They drew big crowds and many Jews listened to the Resurrection story which made the Jewish leaders very jealous. Remember the Jewish leaders’ jealousy was the main reason they crucified Jesus in the first place, and here He is still getting attention as a Resurrected Lord. So the First Reading tells us that the Jewish leaders turn to violent abuse to get rid of Paul and Barnabas. Paul says, “fine, that’s actually part of the plan. We are going to preach to the Gentiles now” which the Reading tells us that the Gentiles were thrilled. And this made the Jewish leaders even more jealous because even though they didn’t want this gift, they didn’t want the Gentiles to have it either. Isn’t that typical? Want your kid to eat broccoli? Don’t fight with him… just casually mention to each son that you make it with love for the other son because it is his favorite. All of a sudden at dinner, plates are piled high with broccoli. Now I’m not confessing I ever did such a devious thing; I’m just saying it works.

Now the Second Reading is from Revelation which you know is full of fun if you are taking Lorie Crepeau’s Bible Study class this time. The great multitude that John has in his vision is the descendants promised to Abraham in Genesis which is both Jews and Gentiles from every nation. John refers to an end-time persecution of the faithful which I sometimes wonder is starting now with the bombings of churches and other things we see going on around us, but we know it will be much worse when it actually happens. John consistently refers to Jesus as the Lamb to make sure we get the message that Jesus is both the Passover lamb in Exodus and the lamb led to slaughter in Isaiah.

Then the Gospel beautifully shows us that Jesus transitions from the Lamb to our Shepherd. This has always been my favorite image of Jesus. He says we hear His voice, He gives us eternal life, we will never perish, and no one can take us out of His hand. I find that so comforting. Basically, we can’t be taken away unless we allow it. So how can we be taken away? Jesus gives us some hints in the Gospel. He says “my sheep hear my voice.” Hearing is essential to faith and discipleship. You are hearing His voice when you come to Mass. You hear it in the prayers, readings, homily, songs, Eucharist. But you have to listen. Isn’t it amazing that our kids can’t hear “please clean your room” for a week, but you can whisper “the brownies are done” once, and they would come running! But if we are honest, we are all like that, aren’t we? We hear what we want to hear. You have to do more than just sit in the pew. If you don’t listen and let Jesus into your heart, you don’t know His voice. His voice should be in your head all through the week, instructing your actions, just a natural part of you. I remember a day when our boys were in middle school, and they were mowing the yard and trimming. A neighbor stopped by with her son who was their friend. She said she was going to have him start mowing their yard, and they were arguing over the amount he should get paid. She asked me how much we paid our boys. I said, “tell her how much we pay you, boys.” Without hesitation they answered, “they give us a roof over our head, food in our mouths, and clothes on our backs.” I smiled. Good, I am a voice in their heads. They never argued or questioned that part of our family dynamics, and I’m pretty confident our grandchildren will be raised the same way. So when people ask me why we come to Mass every week, I say so Jesus’s voice is in our head. He is our Good Shepherd and in order to follow Him we need to hear Him and know Him. So the first part is hearing Him, and the second part is knowing Him. We constantly grow. So even though our Readings are the same every 3 years, you have had 3 years of experiences since the last time you heard today’s readings. They should teach you something a bit different or make you think about something a bit differently now.

Jesus stresses to us in this Gospel that His sheep know Him because He wants that closeness. Think of your best friends, you know everything about each other and still manage to like each other. I have four such friends that I have been friends with for 30 years, and we call each other our soul sisters. It’s that knowing that makes it so special. But we continually find out things about each other because we keep listening. That’s what Jesus wants. He wants your time, He wants to hear about what you are thinking and feeling. And that’s what your family wants also. So I hope you gave Jesus and your family the best gift today which is the gift of your presence and just listening and knowing each other.

Thank-you and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Debbie Beeber