Gospel reflection for 4th of Easter: 8th May 2022

You cannot get there, you can only be there

Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly to the Jews. “Since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans.” Yes, we are not worthy of being one with God, which is eternal life. However, the Jews created a worthiness contest, imposing performance principles which were meant to help us earn or deserve God’s love.

‘Scripture assures us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. The image described in Genesis refers to our original goodness which cannot be increased or decreased. Nothing can change that. “My me is God.” (Catherine of Genoa) We surrender to God’s likeness in varying degrees and stages. The spiritual journey is about realisation, not perfection. It is about awakening, not accomplishing. You cannot get there, you can only be there. But for some reason, that foundational being-in-God is too hard to believe, too good to be true. Only the humble can receive it because it affirms more about God than it does about us. The ego does not like that. The ego makes life all about achievement and attainment. Yet union with God is really about awareness and realignment. It is not that if I am moral, then I will be loved by God; rather, it is that I must first come to experience God’s love, and then I will—almost naturally—be moral.’[1] ‘Each one of us has our own venue where we experience the presence of and our oneness with the One in whose image we are created. For some it might be reflective reading of Scripture, for others it might be art, or poetry or silence. A daily rendezvous with God in those venues will take us to the deeper place where we discover the spark of the divine that is in our hearts.’[2] Then we will discover that the divinity within ourselves is one and the same in all individuals, all creatures, all of life. This is everyone’s supreme purpose in life, this is our vocation.

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also known as Vocations Sunday. ‘The word vocation is rooted in the Latin for voice. Vocation does not mean a goal I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity.’ [3]  We are all called to shepherd each other. “Our calling as shepherds is not to introduce something new, but to reveal, purify and intensify what is already there. Every shepherd is called to be a Sacrament of the mystical, a reminder for others of their divine loveliness.” [4]  

Adapted:  [1]Richard Rohr   [2] James Finley  [3] Parker Palmer                         [4] Daniel O’ Leary

FIRST READING                                                           Acts 13:43-52

Paul and Barnabas carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. When the meeting broke up, many Jews and devout converts joined Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. “We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said: I have made you a light for the nations, so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.” It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.

But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory.  So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

GOSPEL                                                                             John 10:27-30

Jesus said: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life: they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me. The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone and no one can steal from the Father. The Father and I are one.”