MAY 4, 2009- ACTS 11:1-18; JOHN 10:1-10

 

I HAVE COME THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.  The claims that Jesus makes for himself in the Gospels are of such a nature that a clear, even stark, choice confronts his audience. This remains as true today as it was in his lifetime, and in the times of his apostles. Saint John particularly presents Jesus as claiming equality with the Father. He not only preserves statements by Jesus himself that, in one form or another affirms such an identity of equality, but likewise, when writing as the commentator on the meaning of the life and person of the Lord, affirms quite explicitly that in Jesus it is God himself who lives, speaks, and acts among us in the flesh. In the opening lines of his Gospel he observes that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

 

If he makes this assertion of the true identity of the man whose person is that of the Son of God, at the beginning of his Gospel account, clearly it is his purpose to have it understood that the words and acts of Jesus have a transcendent significance that carry beyond this changing world of time. Everything about him takes on a fresh significance once his true person is recognized and consciously acknowledged. The meaning of life itself assumes a density of significance otherwise obscure or altogether misconstrued. So also our relations with others come to have a character that is at once more satisfying and fulfilling once we take to our self this conviction that in all truth, as John puts it, “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son . . .  that the world might have eternal life.” As a writer in John’s circle puts it in the Apocalypse the Lord proclaims: “See, I make everything new.”  Such is the effect of the truth that in Jesus it is God Himself who lives among us- Emmanuel.

 

As Saint Peter demonstrates in the first reading of today’s liturgy, even after his Ascension, Jesus continues to be present and active in his Church. He had promised this continuing presence in the form of the Paraclete whom he was to send to his followers once he returned to the Father.  This Holy Spirit would be experienced as carrying on his mission in the world. When Peter baptized the Roman centurion Cornelius, he was prompted in this incorporation of a gentile family into the Church, he tells us, by the Holy Spirit as he came upon the centurion and his household. The activity of the Spirit convinced Peter, and through him the community of believers, that Jesus’ message was actively to be propagated beyond Israel to the peoples of the earth.

 

The Lord Jesus remains present and active in his Church even today, as he has through the centuries, and as he promised. His resurrection resulted in his continuing to function in this world and to remain the mediator and savior for all those who accept him in faith and take him and his words into our heart. This is what we celebrate in the Easer liturgy and at this altar today. Jesus lives even now and remains with us in his Sacrament and through his Holy Spirit. May our lives and our celebration here witness effectively to these truths that are at the heart of our faith. &       


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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