“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Our Easter celebration continues. In our readings this Sunday, we hear about a Church of united followers of Christ, spreading in leaps and bounds to the ends of the earth. This is a Church in right relationship with their God, following their shepherd wherever he leads them.
In our first reading (Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52)
, we hear about the first of many missionary journeys of St. Paul and his companions. This journey was to Antioch and other cities in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Paul’s success, especially with the Gentiles, bred jealousy in the Jewish leaders and they expelled him from the city of Antioch. Undaunted and “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit”
, they continued on to many other cities.
Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God.
On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”
The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Our Second reading (Revelation 7:9, 14-17)
is yet another apocalyptic vision of John. This writing offers comfort and reassurance to those of John’s time who were experiencing many persecutions. People of every nation on earth would one day stand before the throne (God) and the Lamb (Jesus) in white robes, having “survived the time of great distress” (persecutions)
. God will wipe away their every tear.
I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
In our Gospel reading (John 10:27-30)
, Jesus was speaking about his relationship with his followers and how, like the Good Shepherd, his sheep know his voice and follow him. This is the “right relationship” Jesus has with us and we with him as he gives us eternal live.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Today, we are reminded to think of Jesus as our Good Shepherd and of the intimate, loving and caring relationship Jesus has with us. It was this relationship that certainly sustained the apostles and disciples on their missionary journeys throughout the territories of Israel, Turkey, Syria and Greece. Would it not sustain us as well on our missionary journeys throughout the territories of our lives? Jesus says, “Yes, I will!”
- Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the full scripture readings for this Sunday
- Click HERE to read more about apocalyptic literature and the Book of Revelation