5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
In today’s world where news is reported instantly as a glimpse of the culture, being held accountable seems to be one of the most uncomfortable situations to find yourself in. It is one to which people often respond with defensiveness rather than genuine self-evaluation. Most people, it seems to me, just do not like being wrong or admitting having done something in error and I include myself in that. Unfortunately, we often stick to our own perspective and then voice strong denial even when evidence shows us (and everyone else) that the truth is something completely different to what we thought. Politics is often an unpleasant testimony to that smugness and that arises when we think that our point of view is always right even when it’s wrong. On the other hand, sometimes we seem to know the truth “way down deep in the heart of our being” even though the current evidence does not bear it out and we act on that positive conviction that comes from the heart.
We must also remember that the search for truth is not a search for you and me to become more important than the next person and certainly not more important than God: only God is all powerful. How do we genuinely and unwaveringly search for Truth and stay humble and accountable along the way? How do we follow the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and not the voices of the strangers or even our own selfish one, the “thieves and robbers” of whom Jesus speaks in our Gospel reading for this Sunday?
The Gospel reading for this Sunday is a story about Jesus and the disciples. He is helping them get ready for his suffering and death. For the apostles this was a huge reversal from the adulation of the entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the despair of the Cross on Good Friday. Remember when he asked them whether they would leave him, along with the rest of the crowd? Now it is he who is leaving. They are stunned. Peter’s reply at that time might have been appropriate now. “Where will we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:67-8) Jesus helps them. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” The straightforward meaning of this directive is, you know how to trust, you do it with God. Use that same trust with me.
This fifth Sunday of Easter tells us that Jesus speaks to us not at us. His presence is in the word proclaimed in the Assembly of the people of god gathered together in Church. His word is proclaimed to us in the readings from scripture as well as in lived example of others in the community where we live. We come to Church week in week out to hear the Word. We come to share the joys and sufferings of all the community gathered together. We receive the Body and the Blood of the anointed one, the Christ, risen from the Tomb. We hear the word while we work in the world through those around us. We don’t stay in Church all the time as the hard pew might well become the soft bed. We have duties and obligations to family, work and the communities where we live. We take the Word and Work of the assembled people of God into that life with all its short comings.
The Word of God stays with us because through the death and resurrection of Jesus we receive the Spirit of God Jesus breathed on the disciples. This breath of the Risen One imparted the Spirit to them and to us. We are released from sin that harms our spirits and blocks our ears. The Word of God is available to us: we should open our ears and listen.As the Good Shepherd puts it in the gospel, we will no longer be at risk of either being lost or stolen away by thieves and bandits. On the contrary! He is both our Good Shepherd and the gate that swings open to bring us to green pastures and a magnificent banquet. So, in fact, the light of the Risen Christ, the one whom Peter today calls ‘the shepherd and guardian of your souls’ will be shining on us and on all whom we love.
When we’re confused about decisions we should make, Jesus Himself will show us the Way. When we don’t know what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, the Holy Spirit through the Church and its members will enlighten us. And when we are drawn into false pleasures that promise us life, Jesus will bring us back to real living and the joy of that life through the power of His love. As we walk along the roads of life let us take up the call of Jesus In the gospel to trust in him and he will not let us down.