Daily Homily: I Know My Sheep and They Follow Me

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

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Acts 11:19-26
Psalm 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7
John 10:22-30

It is the winter before Jesus’ crucifixion and he is in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple. As he walks under the Portico of Solomon, the Jews ask him to tell them openly if he is the Christ.

In response Jesus refers them to the signs and works that he has done in his Father’s name during the past two and a half years. These signs and works are a testimony that he is the eternal Son of God, the Word made flesh, the prophet-like-Moses, the Anointed One (the Christ) who has been sent by the Father. Jesus does not and will not force the people to believe in him, this is because faith is a free act of man, who collaborates with God’s grace. Faith is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed; it is personal adherence to God. It cannot be forced. Through faith in Jesus and through Baptism in his name, we are welcomed into God’s flock, under the one Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

The sheep of God’s flock who hear Jesus’ voice obey and follow him. To obey «in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself» (CCC, 144). Faith is the beginning of eternal life and, in heaven, it gives way to the vision of God, just as hope gives way to the enjoyment and possession of God. We cannot believe in God the Father and in his Jesus Christ without sharing in the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals to men who Jesus is. For no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).

In the first reading Barnabas proclaims the Lord Jesus because he is «filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith». Proclaiming that Jesus is Lord is a proclamation that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one. This proclamation, confessed in our creed, is one of the marks of a true Christian and follower of Jesus Christ.

The Acts of the Apostles recounts some of the difficulties that the early Church faced. The persecution that followed Stephen’s martyrdom spread the Hellenistic Christian Jews to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. They chose to preach the word of God exclusively to Jews, yet some from Cyprus and Cyrene decided to proclaim the word of God to Greek-speaking Jews and to the Gentile Greeks as well. Since many Greeks believed and converted to the Lord, the Church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas (who was from Cyprus) to Antioch. Like Peter in the house of the Gentile Cornelius, Barnabas saw the grace of God at work. During his ministry in Antioch, a large number of people was added to the Lord.

During his ministry, Barnabas decides to seek our Paul, who had fled persecution in Jerusalem and had settled in his hometown of Tarsus, some 150 miles from Antioch. Barnabas brings Paul to Antioch and they taught there for a whole year (around 43 AD).

Today’s reading, then, invite us to renew our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. With God’s grace we can grow in our faith. This faith finds expression in love, service, self-sacrifice. It is strengthen by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It influences our decisions and actions in such a way that we can testify to the great things that God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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